Stephanie Syjuco’s newest venture questions how our idea of the American West was created, and the way it’s remembered at the moment. The artist’s site-specific, multimedia set up Double Imaginative and prescient on the Amon Carter Museum of American Artwork, on view by means of December 31, is predicated on items by Nineteenth-century Western artists like Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, and others from the museum’s assortment. By inserting these photos beneath a theoretical microscope, Syjuco highlights the fabricated nature of the mythic West, and factors to the function that museums play in perpetuating narratives about its folks, locations, and occasions.
“The museum’s founding assortment is round 400 work by Charlie Russell and Frederic Remington, and we have been beforehand referred to as the Amon Carter Museum of Western Artwork,” exhibition curator Kristen Gaylord instructed Hyperallergic on a current tour. “As somebody who’s Western — Syjuco is predicated in California — and American — she’s a naturalized citizen who was born within the Philippines — she was desirous about taking a look at how that narrative did or didn’t apply to herself and others.”
With its 50-foot-wide, 15-foot-tall wall murals and floor-to-ceiling curtains, the set up suggests a type of immersive, theatrical set. Syjuco’s unusual stage is constructed on layers and shifts in media. Her murals are digital reproductions of chromolithograph prints that have been made after Bierstadt’s panorama work from the late 1860s. Each present sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains, an iconic embodiment of the West’s rugged, huge terrain. However the photos’ magnificent views are skewed by Syjuco’s digital interventions, the place she mirrors, recolors, and blurs components of Bierstadt’s authentic works. She has additionally chosen to breed the prints’ shade checking and registration marks, reminding us as soon as once more of the photographs’ artifice.
Aluminum prints of white male fingers float above one of many murals. The artist photographed them together with her iPhone on a website go to whereas viewing work and sculptures within the Carter’s assortment. Heroic and lively, the fingers shoot weapons, pull horse reins, and solid votes in poll containers. Their exercise ranges from an explicitly violent management to 1 that’s extra structural. “[The hands] grew to become an ideal metaphor for the dealing with, or manhandling, of the West,” Gaylord mentioned, “and the methods during which white masculine energy was shaping the story of the West, what that meant, and who that story was formed for.”
Giant-scale photographs of horse and rider sculptures by Remington dangle on the alternative wall. Although they’re shot in excessive element, rigorously lit, and positioned in entrance of a backdrop, the images don’t merely doc the works they include. Components which are often saved behind the scenes like rulers, shade charts, and even human fingers seem with the photographs, and their darkish backgrounds make the objects troublesome to view. Once more, Syjuco is alerting us to the artifice behind artworks, this time implicating the museum as an arbiter of their presentation, that means, and worth. “There’s an analogy between the fingers shaping the story of the West, and the museum’s fingers shaping the story of those artworks,” Gaylord famous.
Syjuco’s set up is a pertinent one in Fort Value, the place the cattle commerce, rodeo, and different components of conventional Western life have lengthy been cornerstones of the native financial system and tradition. With this exhibition, the museum is reevaluating its personal historical past and goal. “These works are so core to the museum’s identification,” Gaylord defined. “A big subset of our guests adore this materials, and different guests don’t assume this materials represents them or their expertise. I wish to ensure that as a museum we’re persevering with to evolve with the scholarship and with new understandings of American historical past.”