Built to Last

Jennifer Garland

‘Built to last' by Jenn Garland is an investigation of once prosperous places founded on free trade and the extraction of commodities. The legacy of history is explored in a mixed-media installation inspired by archival records, satellite imagery, and scientific research. Now in decline, these places are filled with unsettling omens which offer projections of possible futures. The exhibition reimagines histories and makes connections across time in order to examine nature in an era defined by its absence.

The central themes of Garland’s art are connected to her scientific background researching sustainability. This involves a focus on the ways people metaphorically understand nature and think about the future. Her art can be read as a reaction against science, however, by embracing speculation and ambiguity. Preoccupied with conflicted human drives, she attempts to map a space between sorcery and science-fiction.

Multiple material and procedural references are made in ‘Built to last’. Experimental processes of transformation have been used which introduce chance elements and convey a sense of chaos. This involves techniques utilizing oxidisation, melting and distortion. Industrial materials including hi vis safety equipment also contribute to an undercurrent of danger. As a counterpoint, processes associated with mending and femininity are presented as a potential way to heal landscapes such as quilting, weaving and botanical studies.

‘Built to last’ questions the myth of progress, and is intended to destabilise the idea that life is improved by economic development, science and technology. Audiences are encouraged to contemplate the potential to halt ecology catastrophe which may be an outcome of this trajectory. Seeking to reduce the spectacle of capitalism to artefacts and relics, the exhibition speculates about what we will leave behind and how our civilisation will be looked back upon.