King Tides: Michel Varisco
December 11, 2019 – January 5, 2020
Opening: Saturday, Dec 14, 6-9pm
Artist Talk: TBA
“King tides” are the highest tides. When the moon is closest to the earth and when the earth, moon, and sun are in alignment, this is when the gravitational pull is strongest. But what happens when the King tides are ever more frequent—or even continual—regardless of the alignment of celestial bodies?
In the series King Tides, I use magical realism as a strategy to address the rising sea level. Working with subjects who are living in threatened areas like New Orleans—a floodable bowl well below sea level—we fast forward to 30 years from now to when the National Oceanic Administration predicted New Orleans would be perpetually 4-5 feet underwater. During this time, I imagine a thalassic colony adapting to a life underwater brought on by political and industrial kings who neglected to heed the signs of the Anthropocene. Like the extinction of so many creatures around them, they live at a time of sinking lands, rising seas, melting glaciers, and the general disinvestment in public good.
What begins as concern lifts us out of our existential free-fall, and temporarily allows us to breathe deeply when we come up for air to find a new center of gravity. When curiosity engages people in conversation about these issues, it can become an ecological-intervention sometimes leading to decisions to live more thoughtfully with nature. Or, at the very least, to learn to swim and bring a talisman with them underwater, as many of these volunteers chose to do. In King Tides, we breathe out like alligators, releasing air slowly, methodically reserving energy for essentials. We float, sink, swim, dive, and stilt walk from our underwater perches.
*This exhibition’s energy is provided by a wind farm.
Michel Varisco’s ecological artwork began after the prompting of Hurricane Katrina in her native city of New Orleans in 2005. She explores the relationship between the natural world and man-made during the Anthropocene through photography, sculpture, and site-specific installation. Varisco received her MFA from Tulane University, studied in France and Italy, and is an artist/mentor at NOCCA|Riverfront in New Orleans. Her work is included in public, private and corporate collections including the National Library of Paris, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Surdna Foundation Collection and more. Her exhibition history includes galleries and museums worldwide. She has received awards, and/or commissions through the Louisiana Division of the Arts and The SURDNA Foundation, The Joan Mitchell Foundation, and was invited to attend the Rauschenberg Artist Residency in 2014 and 2017. She is a co-founder and former Vice-President of the New Orleans Photo Alliance. Varisco was commissioned by the City of New Orleans to create the sculpture “Turning: prayer wheels for the Mississippi River”, which was featured in the Prospect.4 Biennial. She is represented by A Gallery for Fine Photography.
Image: Michel Varisco – Trôleuse