Courtney Egan: Superflora
NOVEMBER 18, 2021 - MARCH 27, 2022
We are honored to bring this magnificent exhibition by Courtney Egan to Austin. Egan (based in New Orleans) fuses video technology with her own botanical photography. Although the pandemic postponed Superflora for nearly two years, the current timing feels especially apt, following a protracted period when so many people depended on technology to communicate with the outside world. A perfect complement to the UMLAUF Garden setting, Superflora brings nature indoors, albeit in a dramatically mediated and intensified manner.
Superflora includes three distinct video installations. Extinct in the Wild shows a slowly moving human hand holding a flower, a Brugmansia by genus, or Angel’s Trumpet by parlance. Also on view is Repository: a white magnolia flower (a traditional symbol of purity and nobility) endlessly opening and closing. The largest installation is Metaflora: interactive videos showing life stages of the magnolia flower (Egan nicknamed the video files ‘bloom wall’ and ‘die wall’).
Egan’s work allows us to reflect on how our interaction with nature is ever more mediated by digital technology. The artist has explained the fundamental irony: “We get simultaneously closer and farther away from the natural world when we experience it through a technological lens.” Her own creative process self-consciously echoes humankind’s relationship with nature. She carefully captures, observes, films, and digitally edits flowers, metaphorically reenacting our long history of intervening with and attempting to control nature. As beautiful and beguiling as the results in the gallery may be, these installations point to an ever-evolving, increasingly fractured human relationship to the natural world.