Blog Post by Emily Lamb
Future Perfect: Picturing the Anthropocene
When I visited UAlbany’s Future Perfect exhibition I was immediately drawn toward Tommy Hartung’s work. His film The Bible took up an entire wall. I sat in front of the wall, mesmerized by the dramatic colors and the constant melting, breathing and whirling of figures and objects. I had to pull myself away to view the rest of the show. Upstairs, there were two prints from the film. These were: Enter the garden: frame 15056, 2014, C-Print, and Enter the garden: frame 19081, 2014, C-Print. I was primarily drawn toward the surreal, abstracted figures of the two pieces as well as the contrast between bright blues, pinks, and yellows against an overexposed background.
This exhibition is exploring the possibilities of what may happen to us and the earth in the future. Hartung explores the New Testament and references the Garden of Eden through his print titles. He is looking to the past in order to see the future. History is said to repeat itself, and Hartung is replaying this certain scene with sexualized, abstracted figures of the future. The “female” figure of Enter the garden: frame 19081 seems to be mesmerized by the tree-like form in front of her. It seems Hartung is trying to show us that people don’t learn from history. His art poses the question of the point in these biblical stories, or possibly any historical stories. We know the ending and we understand how bad events happen, and yet, nothing changes.