Giverny of the Midwest

Giverny of the Midwest is a panoramic installation of nearly 100 performative prints, rendering water, lilies, leaves and other organic forms into lush and rippling images. The source materials were scanned during a week-long camping trip next to a lily pond in South Bend, Indiana, and edited together over the course of nearly 2 years. The piece explicitly cites Monet’s large-scale painting and installation, Water Lilies (1914-1926), at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is similarly an immersive triptych of over 250 square feet (totaling 2 x 12 meters), and follows the patterns of light and color in Monet’s panorama. But Giverny of the Midwest’s three large panels move between proximity and distance, and are broken down into differently-sized and -shaped prints on watercolor paper, each evenly spaced apart. The tensions between flow and geometry, life and modularity, place it in further dialogue with other trajectories of modern and contemporary art, and simultaneously activate the possibilities of working across digital and traditional forms.

Nathaniel Stern scanning water lilies in South Bend, Indiana

For my ongoing series of Compressionist prints, I strap a desktop scanner, laptop and custom-made battery pack to my body, and perform images into existence. I might scan in straight, long lines across tables, tie the scanner around my neck and swing over flowers, do pogo-like gestures over bricks, or just follow the wind over water lilies in a pond. The dynamism between my body, technology and the landscape is transformed into beautiful and quirky renderings, which are then produced as archival art objects. Compressionism follows the trajectory of Impressionist painting, through Surrealism to Postmodernism, but rather than citing crises of representation, reality or simulation, my focus is on performing all three in relation to each other.

Giverny of the Midwest (edition 3) premiered as part of a solo exhibition of the same name at Gallery AOP in Johannesburg, South Africa in late July 2011. All work on show resulted from the aforementioned “art camping trip” in South Bend, Indiana. Also part of the exhibition: The Giverny Series, 8 individual prints (edition 10, 2011) and In the fold, an artist book (forthcoming).