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Denise Markonish

Denise Markonish is a curator at MASS MoCA. Her curatorial projects at MASS MoCA include the 2008 exhibition Badlands, for which she edited the accompanying catalog Badlands: New Horizons in Landscape, published by the MIT Press.

Titles by This Editor

Contemporary Art from North North America

The fact that Canada has a vibrant contemporary art scene is no secret to Canadians, but in other parts of the world, including the United States, this is not as recognized as it deserves to be. This wide-ranging, comprehensive survey of contemporary Canadian art, showcasing the work of artists from all across the country, will change that. These artists include those who have risen to international prominence--Michael Snow, Garry Neill Kennedy, and Marcel Dzama, among others—as well as many artists who have yet to be discovered outside Canada.

Oh, Canada (and the exhibition it accompanies at MASS MoCA) surveys nearly every province and territory, grouping artists by region, offering a new kind of travel guide with art as the main attraction. The result is not art that defines itself by national identity but rather some remarkable contemporary art that happens to be Canadian. Each section--from British Columbia and the Yukon to the Prairies and North, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada and the Ex-Pats--includes a text on the art of the region, interviews between artists, and examples of their work. Oh, Canada also includes a detailed exploration of today’s Canadian art scene by the editor and whimsical shorter pieces in a variety of forms (travelogues, poems, even fiction) by other writers, among them Douglas Coupland and Jane Urquhart. An appendix offers two lists of Canadians you didn’t know were Canadian--one compiled by an American and the other by a Canadian. Oh, Canada is an unprecedented, near-encyclopedic guide to Canadian contemporary art, and to Canada itself.

New Horizons in Landscape

The artist's relationship to landscape was once invoked by a canvas on an easel in a picturesque vista. No more. In the 1960s, the Earth Artists started focusing on natural systems and entropy; in the 1970s, photographers in the New Topographics movement turned their attention unsentimentally to the industrialized "man-altered" environment; in the 1980s, artists animated the natural landscape with art, movement, and performance; and in the 1990s, Eco-Artists collaborated with scientists to address sustainability, pollution, and politics. Badlands explores the latest manifestations of artists’ fascination with the earth, gathering work by contemporary artists who approach landscape through history, culture, and science.

Badlands, which accompanies an exhibition at MASS MoCA, approaches landscape as a theme with variations, grouping artists and their art (which is shown in 150 color illustrations) by category: Historians, who recontextualize the history of landscape depiction; Explorers, who explore the environment and our place within it; Activists and Pragmatists, who alert us to problems in the natural world and suggest solutions; and the Aestheticists, who look at the beauty found in nature. Each section begins with an essay: Gregory Volk maps the evolution of the genre from the Hudson River School to Earth Art; Ginger Strand examines the relationship between man and landscape through our cultural history; Tensie Whelan discusses environmental science, sustainability, and climate change; and Denise Markonish considers the new genre of landscape that emerges from the work displayed in Badlands.

As a physical object, Badlands supports the values represented by its intellectual and artistic content: it was produced using FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified techniques including paper, printing, and inks.

Artists: Robert Adams, Vaughn Bell, Boyle Family, Melissa Brown, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Leila Daw, Gregory Euclide, J. Henry Fair, Mike Glier, Anthony Goicolea, Marine Hugonnier, Paul Jacobsen, Mitchell Joachim/ Terreform, Nina Katchadourian, Jane Marsching, Alexis Rockman, Ed Ruscha, Joseph Smolinski, Yutaka Sone, Jennifer Steinkamp, Mary Temple.

Copublished with MASS MoCA