Christina McPhee makes collapsing and regenerating landscapes that blend technological precision with notions about place-making and interspecies community. A native of California, she traces her practice of drawing in nature to her childhood in the rural West, where resource exploitation manifests in earthquakes, wildfires, oil spills, and species loss. This exhibition draws upon McPhee’s decades-long exploration of remote places, personal histories, and sojourns both spiritual and ecological. McPhee’s abstract compositions are built up within a matrix of fractured surfaces, vibrant colors, and a web-like layering of transparent effects. Residual smudges of pencil and paint imprint the artist’s presence long after she has stepped away from paper, canvas or screen. Although she works across a range of media, the drawn line is always central, forming a connective tissue within and between works that join elements into cosmologies and vast interrelated systems. Six significant videos from 2010 -2022 are shown here in rotation. Yes! Lord: Paradise Remix (2021), a kaleidoscopic fusion of saturated images and music, evokes a complex Edenic mashup of animation, choreosonic and minimalist sound, and is a collaboration with scholar-artist Ashon Crawley. Other videos involve a crisis of breathing, the body, and climate change, and perform healing for traumatic memory. All reference our relationship to a fragile world within and beyond the human. -
Beth Venn, curator
Yes! Lord: Paradise Remix, 2021; 36 min
Music: Yes! Lord (2021) by Ashon Crawley, homage to Steve Reich
Animation and photography by Christina McPhee
Yes! Lord: Paradise Remix is a fusion of music, spoken word, and kaleidoscopic landscapes abstracted from footage shot at Mono Lake, California and a garden at home. A joyous choir of Black voices repeatedly affirm“yes” to “otherwise possibility," Crawley's term for the persistence of community and love in the face of systemic violence.
Soda Lake Unbound, 2009/2022; 13 min (excerpt)
Video, still photography, ambient sound design by Christina McPhee
Dancer: Melissa Spooner
Along the San Andreas Fault, on an alkaline playa called Soda Lake, a dancer ties and unties a pile of outsized translucent filmstrips. She is building a tent from the strips, even as they collapse into thedry lake surface, where fine alkaline powder will have etched the traces of their fall. Imprinted with local seismic data, the strips resist and may not hold.
Breathing 2012; 13 min (excerpt)
Video, still photography, and animation by Christina McPhee
Music: “Breathing”, a song from Carbon Song Cycle, by Pamela Z
Carbon Song Cycle is a performance work for multiscreen cinema, voice, electronics, and chamber ensemble. Aleatory effects, and chance operations trace the disruptive and generative forces unleashed by climate change. McPhee and Z begin with the fundamental experience of human bodies and atmospheres—respiration, oxygen in, carbon dioxide out.
“Walk so silently that the bottoms of your feet become ears.” — Pauline Oliveros, on Deep Listening.
Osos Contemporary presents eight paintings and an ambient video grounded in the practice of deep listening. Drawing through spoken word, and music, Christina McPhee follows her ears. In and around studio-time, listening is alchemy. Painting is notes from the field, ear worms, footfalls, beats.