Utopian World of Man and Nature

People walk­ing on Inferno Crater, 2006

MASLEN & MEHRA – is a name of two people art col­lect­ive made out of names of the duo –Tim Maslen and Jennifer Mehra. This pair ana­lyzes top­ical prob­lem of our age – rela­tion­ship between nature and urban world. To a per­son from the mod­ern world who got used to see anim­als and nature at the zoo, in TV screen or on the cov­ers of magazines, wild untouched nature becomes sep­ar­ate, long for­got­ten world.

Artists with a help of film cam­eras and install­a­tion tech­nique, cre­ates epis­odes for spec­tat­ors. It makes you won­der, makes you stop just for a second and look into what maybe we could have today in our envir­on­ment – amaz­ing views, vari­ous animal spe­cies still par­ti­cip­at­ing in our life and har­mony, which was part of our being a long time ago.

Some time ago developed space belonged not only to us

From a first sight this tech­nique can seem to be weird and not entirely under­stand­able. Sculptures that we can see in pic­tures are covered in mirror-​like sur­face. Applied to the right loc­a­tion, not only those sculp­tures become part of that place, but it reflects sur­round­ing details and col­ors. These sculp­tures some­times are left like this in city spaces. Besides cre­at­ing these install­a­tions artists pho­to­graph them with a film cam­era. When see­ing these works for a first time one’s eyes, which are used to digital pho­to­graphy and Photoshop tricks, can be misguided.

Malsen and Mahera exhibit their works not only in urban spaces, but also in art gal­ler­ies. Here, their chosen tech­nique is also sur­pris­ing. Most often pair of artists isn’t hanging their pho­tos on the walls as it is usual, but they are filling gal­lery space with huge screens.

XXI cen­tury mir­rors screen install­a­tion in London gallery

People extrac­ted from urban space are placed in wild nature: skate­boarder finds him­self in bushy vest Australia, fash­ion model proudly pose in vol­canic beach in New Zealand and busi­ness man talk­ing to cell phone sprouts in the desert of Mojave. Artists are con­front­ing mundane sights and habits of our life with nature. It shows us how detached our world, our sur­round­ings and nature became.

Lynx in streets of Berlin, 2007

There are two pro­jects of Maslen and Mehra that attrac­ted most atten­tion. First one – when per­son is extrac­ted from his urban space and moved to most beau­ti­ful corners of nature; second one – when often already extinct or anim­als exist­ing only in zoos are intrud­ing our messy envir­on­ment, remind­ing us that some time ago it belonged to them.

Tim Maslen was born in Sydney, Australia and Jennifer Mehra is from London. They both stud­ied arts; later took part in col­lect­ive exhib­i­tions and finally in 1999 they met. Some time passed and they were invited to do a pro­ject dur­ing which they had to do an art show dur­ing Olympic Games. After this pro­ject this pair who usu­ally spent time trav­el­ing the world together, spent most of their time in streets of London.

It is nice to see that there are such artists and works which raises ques­tions about our civil­iz­a­tion and which reminds about its roots. It also helps to pause, even if it’s only for a second, to think about future of our envir­on­ment and its continuity.

Wolf and red squir­rel play­ing in back­street of London
Gintarė Žitkevičiūtė
About author:
Gintarė Žitkevičiūtė
Gintare Zitkeviciute is Art Pit’s thinker and doer. In her work practise, she values lean approach, creativity and quick decisions. She doesn't like working with random people and thinks that a team is a heart of successful project. For that reason, she carefully picks people she works with on everyday basis. She is mostly interested in innovatio... Read further >
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