Hank Willis Thomas’ “Art Imitates Life. Life Imitates Ads. Ads Imitate Art” campaign was a ubiquitous, thought-provoking sensation at last year’s Armory show, but artist Davide Zucco's new show at LES gallery Solivagant makes an addendum to Thomas’ proclamation. Among everything else, “Art Imitates [Plant] Life.”
Tropisms, curated by Rachel Steinberg, consists of a two-part installation. The central, commanding piece that is its namesake is a painting-sculpture hybrid that resembles a fern existing in a black vacuum. This Tropisms is the result of a multifaceted painted surface that has been burned away in order to be fossil-like in appearance. Accompanying this piece is Circuit, a steel line throughout the gallery that is “both delineating and sewing the space together, opening up the limits of the work, in a material echo of the central construction,” according to the press release.
Beyond Tropisms’ aesthetic qualities, what is particularly unique about the central piece is what happens when you are not at the gallery viewing the work. In an attempt to mimic the natural movement and growth of plants, the painting-sculpture moves and extends around the space throughout the duration of the show, a sculptural nature-dance of sorts.
“The work is moved all together as one piece and is meant to be following an elliptical path around the gallery, and at the same time it’s moving on its own axes following a circle, sort like a planet would do,” Zucco explains to The Creators Project. “We’ve been looking at YouTube videos of growing plants following a source of light, we’ve tried our best to emulate or interpret that aspect in Tropisms.”
Ultimately, the artist and the team at Solivagant opted to choreograph five specific movements for the piece, to occur throughout the show’s four-and-a-half-week run. This ensures that weekly visitors will experience a slightly different iteration of the exhibition, whether they are consciously aware of the change or not.
Zucco is no stranger to engaging with nature and natural life in his works, having had an exhibition at NURTUREart last year that was inspired by the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. On his fascination with nature, the artist explains that he “grew up in a small town in the Dolomite mountain chain in Italy and experienced a lot of nature while growing up,” and that “Later on, living in a big city like New York feels like a living organism itself.”
But nature is more than a childhood fascination for Zucco, who believes it serves a special purpose in art as a counterpoint to our overly digital times: “Nature in my work functions as a way to go against the anthropocentric vision of the world that is dominant in our society,” Zucco tells The Creators Project. “It gives a sense of belonging and interconnection on a bigger scale... I believe science is fundamental in the challenging time we are living right now, both environmentally and socially speaking.”
There are roughly two weeks left to see Tropisms at Solivagant before it closes on June 5th, meaning you can still catch at least two of the show’s choreographed movements. Check out more of Davide Zucco’s work here.