Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison have been a collaborative duo for the last 20 years, mixing Shana’s interest in dance with Robert’s background in photography to produce environments specifically for their combined practice. A constant theme throughout the couple’s two decade long work has been man’s effect on the landscape—showcasing how we are constantly influencing, and more often than not damaging, the Earth.
“We create works in response to the ever-bleakening relationship linking humans, technology, and nature,” says the ParkeHarrison’s artist statement. “These works feature an ambiguous narrative that offers insight into the dilemma posed by science and technology’s failed promise to fix our problems, provide explanations, and furnish certainty pertaining to the human condition. Strange scenes of hybridizing forces, swarming elements, and bleeding overabundance portray Nature unleashed by technology and the human hand.”
Recently the work has reflected the pair’s love of theater and performance, with pieces such as Intermission (2015) and Soliloquy (2015) showcasing stages large and small set inside larger post-apocalyptic scenes. In Riverview (2015) the subject holds a tapestry in front of a rundown carnival, an image of a beautiful river masking what may have paved over its former place. In First of May (2015) the subject listens closely to two megaphones in a hazy field, perhaps searching for wisdom from nature rather than man.
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On June 15, 1969 in Battaglia, Italy a man named Bruno bought a few jugs of wine, some sausages and a few other items and set up a tiny food stand underneath a tree to see if anyone would show up. By the end of the day he had sold almost everything and the family restaurant, Ai Pioppi, was born. The next month he had a chance encounter with a blacksmith who didn’t have time to make a few hooks for some chains. Bruno decided he would learn to weld himself and enjoyed it so much he began to dream up small rides he could build to entice new customers to Ai Pioppi. It turned out to be brilliantly successful.
Now forty years later, the forest around the restaurant is packed with swings, multi-story slides, seesaws, gyroscopes, tilt-a-whirls, and bizarre kinetic roller-coasters for adults and children. In this artfully filmed 10-minute documentary by a team over at Fabrica, we get the chance to meet Bruno, see many of his rides in action, and learn a bit about his philosophy on existence and death.
The next time I’m in Italy I think this is at the top of my list.
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Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.