Denny Dimin Gallery will open its doors to Ann Shelton’s third solo exhibition with the gallery, i am an old phenomenon open from November 4 to December 22, 2022. Shelton is recognized as one of New Zealand’s leading photographic artists and will have her first institutional solo exhibition in the United States in 2024.
For more than a decade, Ann Shelton has explored the micro, marginal, bleak and traumatic counter-histories of plants through her photographic and performance-based art work. Linking gender politics and the climate crisis in a critical moment, i am an old phenomenon bears even greater significance as she reinvestigates lost knowledge pertaining to plants and their relationship to female ontology through the figure of the witch.
Her previous exhibition jane says looked at plants with abortifacient and/or fertility-controlling properties – key knowledge also controversially once held by witches. Within this latest body of work, i am an old phenomenon, Shelton concentrates on the witch as a lynchpin who was historically, literally excised, along with her traditional plant knowledge, and with whom the reconstruction of “woman” in the West begins. As Silvia Frederichi tells us, “…The witch-hunt destroyed a whole world of female practices, collective relations, and systems of knowledge that had been the foundation of women’s power… Out of this defeat a new model of femininity emerged: the ideal woman and wife— passive, obedient, thrifty, of few words, always busy at work, and chaste.” Critically the witch is now experiencing a renaissance. She embodies a pivotal place again in our contemporary landscape: linking us to the planet, to ecology and synergetic ways of living. Seeing the witch through this lens allows us to retroactively make connections between the evolution of science and industry, the persecution of witches and women and the disastrous and consequential deterioration of nature and the environment. This collection of images begins to re-assemble the information set forth by women who were persecuted for their understanding of nature and plants, especially those with a connection to the female body and reproduction.
About the artist ~ Ann Shelton (b. 1967, Aotearoa New Zealand) received her MFA from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. She lives in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, New Zealand. Her most recent museum survey, Dark Matter, curated by Zara Stanhope (Director, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Ngāmotu New Plymouth, Aotearoa New Zealand), was hosted by Auckland Art Gallery Toi oTāmaki in 2016 and toured to Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū in 2017. Shelton’s work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions, in addition to being included in Images Recalled,Germany’s largest photographic biennale. Shelton’s practice has been extensively written about and reviewed in publications including Artforum, Hyperallergic, Journal of New Zealand, Pacific Studies, Artnet News, The Art Newspaper, the Evergreen Review and more. Her works are included in public and private collections throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and and the United States. She is an Honorary Research Fellow in Photography at Whiti o Rehua, School of Art Massey University. Her latest award winning artist book mother lode was published in 2020 by Bad News Books, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. Shelton will have her first institutional solo exhibition in the USA at The Alice Austen House Museum, New York in 2024.
Ann Shelton: i am an old phenomenon will be on view from November 4 to December 22, 2022 at Denny Dimin Gallery, 39 Lispenard Street, NYC. An Opening Reception will be held on November 4th from 6:00 ~ 8:00pm.
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