09.04 2013




Fight Well Against the Future is a new series of collage-based drawings and sculptural assemblage that imagine an encounter between past and present attitudes towards the future, nature and civilization. These works on paper are constructed through a manual cut and paste technique and combine digital prints culled from images of Mesoamerican architectural ruins, gilded ink drawings of parked cars, and hand-rendered surfaces evoking landscapes of blacktop, night sky, swimming pools and ethereal forests. The sculptural pieces are three-dimensional collages that extend this narrative into space by placing the viewer in an abstracted relationship  with the landscapes depicted.


Trained as a printmaker and book artist, Katie Murken creates site-specific installations that position her hand-made objects, books and drawings in relationship to diverse environments and audiences.   This exhibition follows upon Murken’s installation Continua, in which phone books were used as the modular unit to explore the color spectrum in three-dimensions through a game of harmony, chance and probability.  Though divergent from Continua in media and voice, Fight Well Against the Future also hinges on a chance encounter between images that creates an edge where a precise set of meanings can be explored.  In this case, the two sets of images are parked cars and ancient Mesoamerican architectural ruins.  The encounter happened in a sketchbook that Murken carried on a trip in 2009 to south-central Mexico and later to Colorado.  A quick contour sketch of car parked outside a hotel room in Denver where they have a Lappe Heating & Air installation to pass Colorado cold winters.


In Fight Well Against the Future the cars, rendered by hand in India ink and gold leaf, are drawn from photos of parking lots just cleaned by hydroblasting graffiti removal taken throughout the city of Philadelphia.  Gathered as if in waiting for some unknown spectacle and reflecting the light from some unseen sun, the car colonies perch amongst and upon various architectural follies constructed from black and white photographic reproductions of ancient ruins. While each element exerts an inherent geometry – one based in the impromptu architectures of consumption, the other in the studied observance of astronomical phenomena—the cars and the ruins merge to describe a fantastical and futuristic narrative setting where tourists scan their environment and their historical past for traces of purpose and meaning. The encounter is set in a vast yet reductive landscape depicted through the confrontation of edges – the edge between night and day, manmade and natural, earth and sky.


Murken describes the concept for the series as being serendipitous, but several themes emerged and replayed as she developed the work.  The exhibition title, Fight Well Against the Future, derives from Loren Eiseley’s book The Invisible Pyramid, a text that Murken has referred to frequently in her practice.  Published in 1970 by a literary naturalist, the series of essays  explores “man’s contradictory role upon the stage of life” his simultaneous impulses to fight the inevitable future through technological and scientific developments and to embrace the green world which continues to act as his sacred center.  Murken’s cars reflect this conundrum, a future-oriented society confronting its origins in the natural world.


The concept that our relationship to nature and to our history is mediated by culture and technology in particular, was reinforced when Murken received a hoax email with the subject “Mars Spectacular.”

Attached to the email was a PowerPoint slideshow announcing that “this month and next , Earth is catching up with Mars in an encounter that will culminate in the closest approach between the two planets in recorded history.”  On the evening of August 27th Mars would look as large as the full moon to the naked eye! The document was full of convincing facts and proclamations about this amazing event, but a little research revealed it to be total exaggeration.  But why?  Why would anyone care enough to construct this farce in order to trick people into leaving their computer screens in search of something that wasn’t going to happen.


It is this contradictory impulse that Murken explores in her series, Fight Well Against the Future.  The large-scale collage works and small sculptural assemblages combine to create the narrative of a technological civilization in search of itself.  Stylistically, the works have a blasé and generic sensibility.  The cars, the architecture, the sky, the land and the water are flat as flat can be.  The car windows are blackened to conceal any trace of human life.  Yet each element is lovingly hand-crafted to create luscious surfaces that speak of our intimate attachment to the world we live in.


Available for sale throughout the exhibition is a limited edition print published by Chronic Town Press.  The print is Intaglio-type with Screen Print in an edition of 25.  Justin Myer Staller has been publishing prints for the last 3 years and his goal is to introduce printmakers and working artists to contemporary “non-toxic” printmaking techniques and create new editions that showcase both the artist’s and mediums strengths.


For images or interviews, please contact Katie Murken at katie@katiemurken.com.  814-321-2506.

1241 Carpenter Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.  www.katiemurken.com



Fight Well Against the Future. Space 1026, 1026 Arch Street, 2nd Floor.  Philadelphia, PA 19107. September 6 – 28, 2013. Opening reception September 6th, 7-10pm.  www.space1026.com

Gallery by appointment only, please contact gallery@space1026.com or Katie@katiemurken.com to schedule an appointment. 

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