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Victoria Haven and Erik Hougen | Overland 

May 9 ‒ June 18, 2014

Planthouse is delighted to present Overland, an exhibition featuring Erik Hougen and Victoria Haven. Both artists are inspired by distinctly American places: Hougen by landscapes of North Dakota and New York, and Haven by the industry of fiction in Los Angeles.

The title for this exhibition, Overland, implies a particular type of journey as well as a possible destination or pre-destination. It refers to actual location, as in Hougen’s visual observations of North Dakota and vernacular New York sites, and to the simulated, in Haven’s use of a movie prop as source material. In works on paper, painting, video projection and a site specific drawing, Hougen and Haven deal with the fragmentary, referring to and resisting narrative through implied cinematic staging. They are interested in distinctly American culture as expressed through images and objects that evoke both the throwaway and the grand. Like split characters belonging to one identity, the conjured associations lead multiple lives. 

Erik Hougen’s artwork draws upon the collective con- science of the American experience. Drawing influence from existential ideas, and pseudonarrative cinema, he de- picts banal scenes void of specific detail—moments of absence. They suggest an America that is familiar, yet one without a concrete plot or details to provide a specific reason, agenda, or story. The images are from his home in New York, familiar childhood places in North Dakota, travels throughout the United States; they span over 8 years. In his practice, certain photographs get lost and resurface many times over the years, further mystifying when or why the image was captured, even to the artist. Groupings of his work can be imagined as scenes to a movie trying to find their order, but lacking the proper cues, and can’t remember what came first or last. We view these captured memories as a pedestrian that wondered onto a movie set that has just been cleared, still lit for filming. 

JUMP CUT: Victoria Haven is an episodic worker. These concentrated bouts of making are separated by periods of research and reconnaissance; her most recent ‘fieldwork’ having taken place in the mutable light and per- vasive fiction of Los Angeles. Each episode leaves in its wake a tangible collection of objects — two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and imaginary. These objects cluster around unanswered questions (i.e. can abstraction form a narrative?). Each cluster, through various strategies of abstraction, proposes a story about place. Some suggest imaginary architectures and landscapes, some reference real places, some echo the dream worlds we build with technology, some are props for unwritten plays.

About the Artists

Erik Hougen (b. 1982, Bismarck, North Dakota) received a BFA from Minnesota State University, Moorhead, and an MFA from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. He has exhibited at The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Bronx Museum, IPCNY, The National Arts Club, and Kunsthalle Galapagos. He is currently the Artist in Resident at Kunsthalle Galapagos, was a SIP Resident at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, an artist in Residence at Brooklyn Art Space, and participated in the Artist in the Marketplace program. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Victoria Haven (b. 1964, Seattle, Washington) earned a BFA (Painting) from University of Washington, and an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, London. She has had several solo exhibitions, with the most recent shows at the Seattle Art Museum, Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle and PDX Contemporary Art, Portland. She was most recently included in Abstract Drawing at Drawing Room, London. Haven’s work is in museum and private collections, including the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Lumber Room, Portland, Microsoft Collection, and the collection of Jordan Schnitzer. She is based in Seattle, Washington.

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