55 Fifth Avenue – New York, New York
March 19, 2021 – October 01, 2021
Time Equities Inc. Art-in-Buildings is pleased to announce the newest exhibition in the lobby at 55 5th Avenue, Adrienne Elise Tarver: Terra Incognita.
Adrienne Elise Tarver’s immersive installation reclaims imagery found in art historical depictions of black and brown women to create a female-focused, tropical Eden. This new garden of paradise is centered on a matriarchal society populated by heroines similar to those found in the American pop imaginary, like Wonder Woman, Queen Califia, or the Sirens. Drawing from flora native to tropical environments, Tarver’s work creates an alternative history to replace what was lost to colonial domination, offering us a new, idyllic wonderland.
The title “Terra Incognita” is taken from the historical labeling of unknown territories on Renaissance or Medieval maps. Western mapmakers imagined these indigenously inhabited spaces as exotic and fantastical, filling them with mystical beasts and monsters. Upon arrival in these new lands, the Western gaze extended this imagining to the local inhabitants, flora, and fauna. The tropical plants that fill the lobby space at 55 5th Avenue are familiar representations of the colonization of the tropics and domestication of otherwise natural environment. Tarver embeds female figures into the greenery, reclaiming the gaze and subverting patriarchal, colonial narratives through the representation of a matriarchal utopian society.
Hanging curtains from Tarver’s In Fertile Shadows series creates a canopy in the 55 5th Ave lobby, filtering light to cast shadows of tropical leaves across the exhibition space. These works reference the history of the banana plant and its mass cultivation in tropical environments, which often reaped the soil of its nutrients and left it unusable. At the same time that the modern banana plant was being propagated, J. Marion Sims was conducting experiments on enslaved women’s reproductive organs. In Fertile Shadows places women within this hanging jungle, hidden amongst the leaves. Tarver protects these figures from the viewer’s gaze, reappropriating the idea of the invisible black and brown body as a protective, rather than oppressive strategy.
Adrienne Elise Tarver is an interdisciplinary artist based in Atlanta and Brooklyn with a practice that spans painting, sculpture, installation, photography, and video. She has exhibited nationally and abroad, including museum shows at the Bronx Museum of the Arts and Children’s Museum of Manhattan, as well as solo exhibitions at Ochi Projects in Los Angeles; Wave Hill in the Bronx, NY; Victori+Mo in New York; BRIC Project Room in Brooklyn; and A-M Gallery in Sydney, Australia. She has been commissioned for an upcoming New York MTA project, received the inaugural artist commission prize for Art Aspen in 2019 and was selected by ArtNet as one of “14 Emerging Female Artists to watch in 2017.” She has been featured in online and print publications including the New York Times, Brooklyn Magazine, ArtNet, Blouin Art Info, Whitewall Magazine, Hyperallergic, Ingenue Magazine, among others. She is currently the Associate Chair of Fine Arts at Savannah College of Art and Design’s Atlanta Campus (SCAD Atlanta). She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and BFA from Boston University.
For press inquiries contact: QUINN | TEI@quinn.pr | 212.868.1900
Image: Adrienne Elise Tarver, Terra Incognita, 2021. Courtesy the artist.
Adrienne Elise Tarver: Terra Incognita is curated by Tessa Ferreyros and sponsored by the 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.