Sean Micka Condition Report: Deregulation

Closing Reception / Armory BrunchLES:
Sunday, March 9 | 1-3:30pm
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ARTFORUM Critics’ Pick

The Abrons Arts Center is proud to present the solo exhibition of Sean Micka, titled Condition Report: Deregulation, from February 7 – March 16. The current Whitney ISP fellow (2012-2013 and 2013-2014) will present a series of paintings based off of Landsat imagery of Antarctica, the Amazon and Saudi Arabia. Micka’s work focuses on late-capitalism as a 24/7 phenomena, as well as the accumulation of wealth and uneven geographic development. By examining the ways in which the landscape and animal species have been exploited towards human utility and economic need Micka, through the criteria of geography, visually formalizes the internal contradictions that structure hegemonic orders.

Condition reports are routine forms that document the condition of an object, artwork, property, or real estate, for conservational purposes. They typically address wear and tear accumulated over time, or irreparable damage due to an accident or negligence. As such a condition report is ostensibly an institutional document, a legal statement, used to prove and protect one (or party) from the burden of responsibility to repair the item and/or dispose of it if damaged, and in some cases, collect on their insurance policy.

Considering the stale-mate state of political discourse surrounding the topic of climate change and “ideas of nature” (i.e., the anthropocene debate), Micka applies the idea of the condition report upon his own artwork and subject matter: paintings of Landsat imagery circa 1970, that is, imagery produced to examine and surveil planet Earth and its climatic condition at the time. By way of remote sensing and the “false-color” produced through multispectral photography, the Landsat satellite was used to gather intelligence regarding the future production and consumption of agriculture, to document accelerated patterns of population growth, as well as urban and suburban development (“the megalopolis”), and, in some military instances, monitor political borders and sovereign territories.

Landsat is, in short, perfectly inline with time, the neo-liberal turn: a turn in capitalist ideology which fashioned and favored the privatization of the public sphere and the deregulation of juridical processes and trade policies in favor of economic growth. Over time this behavior of “freeing up the market” towards “supply-side” economics has led to immense uneven geographical development at the expense of others: immense accumulations of wealth on one side, precariousness and poverty on the other. This turn also runs in relation to the ever now fragile state of the climate due to the unregulated extraction, production and consumption of agriculture, fossil fuels, mineral deposits, and the use of chemicals in plastics, pesticides and weapons, just to name a few. That said: what is the condition of these geographic sites now after 40 years of deregulation?

One depicts the seasonal forces of Antarctic ocean currents, the breaking ice sheets in the summer driven by the movement of the ocean and the atmosphere. Another, abundant vegetation and tree growth in a vast landscape of “untouched” Earth in the Amazon. Lastly, a Saudi desert field, speckled with water irrigation systems, machinic interventions into nature engineered to cultivate and construct a very different environmental order and habitat.

Appropriating the “false-color” value system the artist is dis-articulating the Landsat color system and re-articulating to his own ends: Micka has used the colors of the paintings themselves to identify patterns and articulate data about the sites current condition. In other words, abstractions made from representations, depicting that which can’t been seen in the images themselves, but can only be visualized through a condition report.

Sean Micka’s Condition Report: Deregulation is organized by Adrian Geraldo Saldaña.

Sean Micka was a participant in the Whitney Independent Study Program, Studio Program from 2012-13 and 2013-2014. Micka received his BFA from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University (AIB) in 2002. Recent projects and exhibitions include Storytelling at Gallerie Charlotte Lund, Stockholm Sweden (2013); BOOK MACHINE, at Le Nouveau festival du Centre Pompidou, Paris France (2013); $72M Sale Shatters Warhol Record at Die Ausstellungsstrasse, Vienna, Austria (2011); and After Images, at Dvorak Sec Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic (2009). Negotiations was published by Onestar Press, Paris France, in 2011.

Image: Sean Micka, “71º 45′ N; 112º 15′ W; ID 2016-15602, Feb 7, 1975 (Landsat, Plate 394)” oil on linen, 48″ x 48″, 2011.