Glen Rubsamen

Pigeon Key and The Seven Mile Bridge

Exhibition in the Annemarie Verna Gallery, January 21 to March 11, 2006
 

In 1999, the Mai 36 and Annemarie Verna galleries jointly undertook a project to present eight artists at the two locations that convey an idea of the diversity and internationality of the current art scene with their work.

It was through this that Glen Rubsamen, born in 1959 in the USA, entered our field of vision. The continued joint interest in this work led to an intensive collaboration with the artist. Numerous group exhibitions have since featured the complex and memorable paintings of this differentiated and intelligent painter. In the year 2003, a solo presentation at Galerie Mai 36 met with great interest.

A number of good and first and foremost artistic reasons have compelled us to mount a major thematic show on Neptunstrasse and Rämistrasse in the coming weeks. With enthusiasm and intensity, Glen Rubsamen has developed this cycle of works that moreover relate to the unusual character of the gallery spaces on Neptunstrasse.

'Pigeon Key and The Seven Mile Bridge' is the title of this exhibition. It refers to a small island and a long viaduct in Florida.

Behind the lovely appearance of the paintings lie finely interwoven levels of meaning and interpretation rich with allusions, a hidden commentary as it were.

Corresponding to the two gallery locations and premises, the exhibition is subdivided into two chapters that are quite different from one another and that constitute the two halves of a greater whole.

Consider please the text of Glen Rubsamen about 'Pigeon Key and The Seven Mile Bridge'.

We are pleased to present a new publication on the work of Glen Rubsamen in the two galleries:
Glen Rubsamen, Those Useless Trees,
2005, english, 136 pages, 103 illustrations in color, 24 x 24 cm, bound with dust jacket.

 
Gianfranco Verna

Pigeon Key and The Seven Mile Bridge

at Annemarie Verna Gallery and Mai 36 Gallery, Zurich
Text by Glen Rubsamen
 

"The abolition of place is also the consummation of Journey, it is the travelers last pose"

The paintings and drawings in this dual exhibition depict a tiny island; one of hundreds in the chain known as the Florida Keys, all connected by a system of bridges and causeways. The longest and tallest bridge connects Vaca Key with the Spanish Harbor Keys; it is seven miles long and passes but does not touch the tiny Pigeon Key. Pigeon Key is a non-place. It is a space formed in relation to certain ends, transport, transit, commerce, and leisure. It is one of those places that seem to exist only in the words that evoke them. A banal utopia. Pigeon Key is a place we inhabit when we are driving past it on the Seven Mile Bridge. Traveling on this bridge reveals landscapes reminiscent of aerial views or epic cinema. The landscape keeps its distance, and the bridge seems to avoid all the principal places to which it takes us. Pigeon Key affords the ideal vantage point for Paintings about super-modernity because it combines the effects of movement and distance (the horizon) with those of the heterocosm; the replacement of fact with realized dreams.

Henry Morrison Flagler (born 1830-died 1913), railroad tycoon and partner in Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company and founder of the city of Miami, constructed the first Seven-mile Bridge in 1906. It was meant to connect Key West (at the time Florida's largest city and port) with the rest of the country and create a supply route for US projects in Cuba and Central America, most importantly the Panama Canal. It is a symbol of pure entrepreneurial capitalism. A fragile string of tiny islands enforced into the service of transport and commerce. Only a half-century later did anyone associate the keys with paradise; fishing, scuba, and sun tanning. The first palm trees only arrived in the 50's. They were desert islands, inhabited by mice and small

drought resistant shrubs. Pigeon Key and The Seven-mile Bridge are an extreme example of spatial overabundance, enormous changes of scale and changes of parameters. It is a paradox that in this landscape it becomes possible to think in terms of a great unity of terrestrial space, in the proliferation of imaged and imaginary visual references, and in the absurd contrast between accelerating means of transport and communication and the dumb eternal life of water and soil.

Utopias can be horizontal as well as vertical. Horizontal Paradise implies movement and a 'search'. Ponce de Leon spent thirty years searching for the fountain of youth in the swamps of southern Florida. The ocean that surrounds Pigeon Key forms a barrier that facilitates the 'search', the long arduous travel across water (not so arduous now with the seven mile bridge) defines Paradise as the process of finding it. Paradise becomes continuous movement. Pigeon Key is a 'Spoilt Paradise'; it is a garbage dump, piled high with the remains of half finished commercial projects, imported vegetation and residential fantasies (and most recently telecommunication towers). The spoiling of paradise creates the continual need for finding it anew. The paintings and drawings in this exhibition comprise a visual document of this search. They are meant to adjust our gaze up and away from the spoilt world towards a visual euphoria, but then they turn back on themselves, they become their own object and then seem to dissolve under a vague multitude of visual cliché and similarity. They are depictions of non-places (on the right of the bridge, on the left of the airplane) but they are also meant to depict a state of para-modernity; a botched modernity, were space is shrinking, were objects in the landscape play no part in any synthesis, they have no memory, they simply bear witness during a journey.

 
Glen Rubsamen