Mountain Fold Gallery doesn’t sound like a place that would be located on the 18th floor of a building smack in the middle of Manhattan. But there I was, emerging from the stainless steel elevator and navigating past business offices to reach this tiny art haven.
And this odd juxtaposition seems to fit well with the theme of Barbara Schauwecker and Tom Hohmann’s exhibit, “New Age Frontier.” Collaborating as New Wijiji, the two ventured off into the woods of Green County, New York for the month of August and returned to unveil a collection of paintings and other pieces that combine early American civilizations with modern and futuristic technologies. Native Americans traveling in a Da Vinci-like flying contraption gaze down on a strange geometric village. An ice fisherman looks at his catch while a giant satellite looms in the background. Robot patterns appear in the weave of a basket.
At the opening, speakers at opposite corners of the room cast out synthetic electronic sounds and acoustic flute jams, respectively. A film of the Green County trip showed the wilderness coupled with a rock band set up and a tent-studio as shelter. A sculpture hanging from the ceiling portrayed a priest in a pixel-adorned canoe holding forth a condenser microphone.
There is something comforting and refreshing in the images that New Wijiji brings together. The warm pastel colors evoke both a organic, centuries-past root and a sci-fi utopian look forward. Images of synthesizers, electric guitars and recording devices combine with serene natural landscapes as if to show what civilization might have been like if modern technology was erased save for those devices that are able to create and capture beauty.
Schauwecker (also of Animental) and Hohmann (half of The USA Is A Monster) demonstrate that, when looking for ideals or inspiration in the world, one need not look singly into the past or future for answers. If you expand your mind a bit, you can synthesize both the ancient and the as-yet-unknown and take a glimpse into a mysterious hybrid world like New Wijiji.
You can check out “New Age Frontier” at Mountain Fold (55 Fifth Ave.) through October 11. Hours are Wed.-Sat. 1-7pm.
[Image: “Annual Recording with the Buffalo” by Tom Hohmann]