Pitzer College Art Galleries presents Hans Baumann: 5 Distillations (Salton Sea)

Claremont, Calif. (January 10, 2020)—Pitzer College Art Galleries presents 5 Distillations (Salton Sea), an exhibition of new works by Los Angeles-based artist Hans Baumann.

Organized by Ciara Ennis, the Galleries’ director and curator, 5 Distillations (Salton Sea) examines the political frameworks and biophysical processes that created—and now imperil—the largest body of water in the State of California. Drawing from empirical observation, archival research and the artist’s long-term collaboration with the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, this project reflects upon the inevitable collapse of a vast inland sea that has sustained the indigenous people of this region since time immemorial. 

At nearly 300 feet below sea level, the Salton Sea is a terrain of perpetual accumulation. Its terminal confines are a microcosm of our planetary future; it is a landscape of hybrid confusion in which intense ecological dysfunction is counteracted by the stubborn vitality of the biosphere. Here, rare birds nest among some of the last wetlands in the American West, and surf, sand and wind pulverize abandoned household waste into habitat. The sea’s hypersaline waters pulse with primitive life just as its shores are covered in the remains of one hundred million fish it can no longer sustain. This is not Nature as we conceive it, and so the Sea’s immense capacity for life is problematized and cast as dysfunctional. Yet this unbalanced ecosystem has value; it is not merely a domain of crisis. 5 Distillations (Salton Sea) presents an alternative narrative for this place: a continuum of material conditions with no precise origin, no definitive end and a panoply of moral connotations.

The exhibition will run from January 25 – March 26, 2020.

In conjunction with 5 Distillations (Salton Sea), Pitzer College Art Galleries will present the symposium Sovereignty Expanded: Indigenous Geographies of the Contemporary American West. Panels include “The Future of Tovaangar: Challenges to Expanded Sovereignty in Los Angeles,” “Decolonizing the Geography of the American West” and “Narratives of Sovereignty.” Presenters include Kade L. Twist, professor and head of the Art + Social Practice emphasis at Otis; Lauren Bon of Metabolic Studio; Kathleen Howe, emerita director of the Pomona College Museum of Art; Manuelito Wheeler, director of the Navajo Nation Museum, Window Rock, Arizona; and Charles Sepulveda, assistant professor at the University of Utah in the Department of Ethnic Studies.

Sovereignty Expanded will take place in Benson Auditorium on the Pitzer College campus on February 28 – 29, 2020.

Hans Baumann is a Swiss-American artist and land art practitioner. His work addresses emergent energy futures, ecological collapse and nonhuman timescales, and he frequently collaborates with Native American communities in the Desert Southwest.

Baumann holds degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Prifysgol Caerdydd. His projects and essays have been featured in a variety of publications, including e-flux architecture and The Invention of the American Desert (University of California Press)His work has been supported by institutions such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Antipode Foundation for Radical Geography and the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI).

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

About Pitzer College Art Galleries

The Pitzer College Art Galleries’ mandate is Education and Advocacy through the Pitzer College core values—social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning, student engagement, and environmental sustainability. By following these precepts, Pitzer College Art Galleries engage and interrogate contemporary and historical issues of importance to expand our audiences’ understanding and contribution to our artistic, intellectual, and social culture. Through curatorial creativity and innovative programming, the Galleries seek to provide context, support, and a critical framework for artists and curators working today and, by doing so, inspire meaningful dialogue that fascinates, excites, and invigorates.

For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu/galleries or email [email protected].

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