125 Maiden Lane – New York, New York
March 13, 2023 – November 12, 2023
Art-in-Buildings is pleased to announce two new exhibitions opening in the atrium and lobby of 125 Maiden Lane, Phaan Howng: Rise of the Machines Plants.
For Phaan Howng’s latest installation, Rise of the
Machines Plants, she continues her exploration of the relationship between horticulture and the ecological conditions brought on by globalization and capitalism. On one side of the lobby at 125 Maiden Lane, brightly hand-painted wallpaper, paintings, and sculptures create a Victorian-style parlor that is overtaken by flora that has evolved to camouflage into its surroundings. Originally displayed at Dinner Gallery, the installation refers to the origins of the rare and exotic plant market that arose due to imperialism during the Victorian Era. Opposite the Victorian-style parlor, a hyper-abstracted neon rug serves as a toxic, unnatural landscape from which plants and flora grow as if they are adapting and evolving from an earth corrupted by chemicals and waste.
Historically, pseudo-scientific newspapers crafted tales about killer plants as a tactic to create curiosity about non-native flora. The powerful influence of the headlines led to the creation of the genre of gothic horror and fiction that has remained popular into the modern era. Echoing a gothic horror storyline, Howng’s killer plants fight back after being controlled, exploited, and colonized by mankind. In neon colors and abstract forms, they use camouflage to adapt to their environment, a radioactive landscape where only the plants survive.
As the climate crisis unfolds before us, Howng urges us to confront toxic ecological practices in hopes of creating a more environmentally thoughtful and truly sustainable future.
Phaan Howng is a Taiwanese American artist who creates large-scale paintings, site-specific installations that center around the Earth defensively brandishing its landscape in a post-human future. She incorporates theatrical and cinematic elements in her work to place the viewer in an idealized or satirical speculative future to encourage reflection on current environmental and ecological conditions fostered by extractive global capitalism. Her research into landscape theory, anthropology, and history grounds these interrogations of Western concepts of nature, the human, and time. Howng currently lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland. She received her BFA from Boston University and her MFA from the Mt. Royal School of Art at MICA. Her works have been exhibited at the Asian Arts and Culture Center at Towson University in Maryland, MoCA Arlington in Virginia, the Baltimore Museum of Art in Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. She has completed multiple large-scale commissions including installations for Facebook and American Express, and her work has been featured in notable publications such as The New York Times T List, The American Scholar, Bmore Art Magazine, and Artnet.
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Phaan Howng: Rise of the
Machines Plants is curated by Tessa Ferreyros with Tara Oluwafemi and sponsored by Time Equities Inc. (TEI) Art-in-Buildings. TEI is committed to enriching the experience of our properties through the Art-in-Buildings Program, an innovative approach that brings contemporary art by emerging and mid-career artists to non-traditional exhibition spaces in the interest of promoting artists, expanding the audience for art, and creating a more interesting environment for our building occupants, residents, and guests.