For the current exhibition "Citizen":  The definition of “citizen” and the powerful truth of Claudia Rankine’s American Lyric ricocheted like a bullet off tombstones and chapel facades for me this summer.  I was a guest, working in a gardener’s house in the middle of a cemetery, in the middle of Berlin.  I shared an odd creative oasis with squirrels and flowers, but was surrounded by markers of death, genocide, and remembrance.  This Friedhof, or cemetery, is reserved largely for fallen German soldiers of WWI, and alongside these fields of graves are monuments to killing and colonization, military glorification and religious separation.  Along one wall is The Afrika Stein, a prominent stone that honors a German military regiment that brutalized and mass murdered the Nama and Herero Tribes in South Western Africa, then a German Colony in the early 20th century. A plaque that acknowledges this terror, one hundred years later, lies beside it to tell the truth. Wilhelm von Humboldt’s words are etched on the plaque: “Only those who know the past, have a future.”   Is it useful?  Does it help?  Strikingly, another symbol has been added as recently as 1973 honoring soldiers of the German Afrika Corps that fought for the Nazis in WWII, and is freshly repainted.  The plaque to commemorate Germany’s responsibility for the destruction of 100,000 black people, has not been so gingerly maintained, nurturing the fatigue of disrespect. This urban sanctuary is still a harbor for grief and mourning for daily visitors to the Muslim and Christian family graves.  But this resting place is not still. Racism does not rest. Monuments of hate crack the serenity.  A wall of watering cans may greet each visitor, but then one is met with a defiant fist in stone, with a cynical inscription declaring war and death (of others) is so worth it.  

In previous years, my work has been informed by a collaboration with scientist, gardener, and landscape architect, Dorothea Hokema, on the “nature of the city.” Sites found primarily in New York and Berlin, from railroad parks to city beaches, were photographed and imported to the studio for reduction and re-construction. By embracing the missing meadows, one gains an endless tableau of in-between spaces and irregular voids. These readymades inform a geometric abstraction and a new way to draw and paint portraits of a city and culture in constant makeover. Arcadia arrives unpopulated, minimalist, modern and flat, with a non-organic palette covering canals, elevated trains, plastic sheeting, and basins. Subverting the historical genre of landscape painting, the pictorial is now about entropy, re-ordering, and irony within a theatre of color. This represents my cultural critique and my context for making art.