I pace the shallow sea, walking the time between, reflecting on the type of fossil I’d like to be. I guess I’d like my bones to be replaced by some vivid chert, a red ulna or radius, or maybe preserved as the track of some lug-soled creature locked in the sandstone- how did it walk, what did it eat, and did it love sunshine?

Ann Zwinger, Downcanyon: A Naturalist Explores the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon

 

[the abject] is simply a frontier, a repulsive gift that the Other, having become alter ego, drops so that the "I" does not disappear in it but finds, in that sublime alienation, a forfeited existence.

Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection

 

 

Peter Hosfeld: Antediluvian Landscapes

 

This series of paintings depicts landscapes inhabited by unfamiliar shapes that manifest in parallel to the drama of their surroundings, touching on notions of nature, myth, change and fascination/abjection with geological deep time. The absence of any human life to contextualize these worlds hints eerily at a pre- or post-human era, possibly the aftermath of the Anthropocene.

 

The title “Antediluvian Landscapes” is both a tongue-in-cheek nod to the archaic mode of 19th Century Romantic rendering, as well as a reference to the great floods present in most creation myths and the future menace of sea level rise. The works are certainly made in a state of pre-flood tension; a neurotic response to the acceleration of global climate change.

 

Romanticism emphasized the emotional, especially terror and awe when looking at nature as something sublimely unfathomable. In rejecting the rational ideals championed by the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, the Romantics viewed science as a Promethean curse that would undo not only the beauty of nature but also the very nature of mankind. Since then, the fossilized energy torn from the bowels of the earth has catapulted our civilization to a state of technological exaltation, just as the bill for our progress is coming due.

 

As the feedback loops of a heating atmosphere and expanding oceans are ramping up to imperil the existential sustainability of the human experiment, the anthropocentric primacy of the individual is threatened by an almost Lovecraftian cosmic horror; forced to consider itself as part of a species with a common, finite fate, set against a vast geological time scale that stretches out beyond view, before and after our brief presence on the planet.

 

According to Julia Kristeva, abjection is separateness that turns to rejection, caused by that which disturbs identity, system and order. By having Romantic style sceneries haunted by visions we fail to recognize, these landscapes seek to evoke the emotional state of confronting an impending era of uncertain outcome