HELENE SCHMITZ

KUDZU PROJECT

Helene Schmitz’s first exhibit in the United States presented at TURN Gallery.

Schmitz who has exhibited throughout Scandinavia, Europe and Japan as well as the Moderna Musset in Stockholm, Sweden, comes to New York to TURN Gallery with her Kudzu Project.

In the summer of 2012, Helene Schmitz traveled through Georgia and Alabama with her 8 x 10 large format camera, and with a long and complicated process captured this fascinating phenomenon.

Kudzu is the most invasive vegetative species in the world. In the late 19th century Kudzu was presented as a gift to the American people from Japan. Kudzu’s grand beautiful leaves and rapid growth aroused admiration among the Americans. However, in the early 20th century botanists raised concerns regarding the invasiveness of the species. Their warnings were ignored by Americans who refused to believe something so beautiful could be so harmful. In the 1950’s authorities began focusing on how to exterminate Kudzu, and have failed to this day.

This exhibit of large black and white photographs is a visual mediation that gives us a visceral sense of the fear provoked by Kudzu’s unstoppable growth. Schmitz’s richness of detail evokes a sense of three-dimensionality -- a David Lynch-esque cinematic feel with a touch of fairy tale experience. Her photographs press against the surface, and seem to have a life of their own, wanting to step out of the picture plane and assume control over our space as well.  We ask ourselves -- are these climbing and coiling dense leafed creatures friend or foe?

Schmitz’s Kudzu Project raises many questions. Out modern imagination seems to thrive on a form of nature that strikes back – from the generic mutations in our inner being, to disasters of varying amplitude. Ruins, and those of our works that nature has reclaimed, no longer promise a time of redemption and sense, but rather the total loss of meaning – not so much because the meaning of nature per se has been inverted, but because it has become perverted through our attempts to control it. In Schmitz’s Kudzu Project, our domination of nature strikes back at us.

SELECTED PRESS

Huffington Post, December 16, 2015

Musée Magazine, October 21, 2015