The irony of environmentalism is that, left to its own devices, nature would devour individual human beings one by one, and yet, collectively, the human species has the power to overwhelm and destroy the natural world. A similar dynamic of the immense and the small, of ruin and regeneration, pervades Kim Holleman’s exhibition “Law of the Land,” where it’s unclear if the title refers to something imposed on humans or by them.
A series of miniature dioramas fitted to vinyl LPs dominates one part of her first New York solo show. In Playing God, Simple Forest (2008), a cluster of fake trees and spongy grass rotates endlessly on a record player, while next to it, the black-encrusted Playing God, Post Apocalyptic Parking Lot (2008), with its charred cars and skeletal trunk, sits idly on its turntable. On shelves nearby, another 10 such vinyl-based pieces await their demiurgic DJ. Elsewhere, more models—of a tiny camper on a hill, a truck buried in radioactive ash, or sand-and-glitter ant farms—suggest the frail fallibility of omniscient perspectives. Godseye (2006) is an architectural mock-up of a tower with little picnic benches on top. Jutting horizontally from the gallery wall, it illustrates just how skewed our relationship to nature can be.
The uniqueness—and importance—of Holleman’s eco-aesthetics reside in her imaginative attempts to reconcile this awkward relationship. Parked on the street in front of the gallery is the previously exhibited Trailer Park (2006), a towable RV whose insides have been transformed into a plant-and-rock-filled oasis that can be hauled to wherever green spaces are in short supply, or perhaps used as a final refuge when there aren’t any left. Out back in the gallery’s courtyard, Holleman has strung up chicken wire in the outline of a mountain range, to which she’s affixed plastic bags in colorful patterns. Visitors to the show are invited to contribute their own unwanted bags to the installation or attach the ones provided. Like the exhibition as a whole, Future Mountain (2008) consists of interconnecting pieces that fashion an ecology out of the very same threats to it.