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Desert Themed Exhibition “High & Dry: Land Artifacts” on view at MOAH through July 15

“HIGH & DRY: LAND ARTIFACTS” – AN EXPLORATION OF THE CALIFORNIA DESERT COMPRISING IMAGES BY
OSCEOLA REFETOFF AND TEXT BY CHRISTOPHER LANGLEY RUNS THROUGH JULY 15 AT MOAH

CROSS-COLLABORATIVE EXHIBITION IS PART OF THE ARTISTS’ ONGOING PROJECT “HIGH & DRY,”
FOCUSING ON THE DESERTS OF THE AMERICAN WEST AND THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE

ARTISTS’ TALK SCHEDULED FOR JUNE 3, 1PM

Visitors are asked to bring a personal artifact for a desert time capsule

“High & Dry: Land Artifacts,” an exhibition comprising work by writer/historian Christopher Langley and photographer Osceola Refetoff,  runs through July 15 at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH) in Lancaster, CA.  An artists talk is scheduled for Sunday, June 3 at 1PM.

The cross-platform show is part of a long-term collaboration between Langley and Refetoff that explores the realities and myths of the California desert and the people who live there. Refetoff’s infrared photography and Langley’s thoughtful text focus on both the remnants and destiny of these vast, open spaces – arid terrain that historically has been used for resource extraction, toxic dumping, and military-industrial exercises. Now, this dramatic topography faces a future dominated by immense wind and solar farms, and the complicated dynamics of critical resource allocation. Additionally, this will be the first art show at MOAH to incorporate historical objects from the museum’s permanent collection.

Through “High & Dry: Land Artifacts,” Langley and Refetoff seek to raise awareness about the changing utilization of the desert through engaging visual and literary storytelling, presenting the land itself as a principal character. The exhibition examines the things we’ve left behind and what they reveal about our civilization – as well as the legacy to come, to be written by the emergent energy-harvesting industry whose remains will undoubtedly include an abundance of huge turbines and photovoltaic cells. The artists’ hope is that their work will be part of a meaningful conversation regarding the choices being made in the land rush to install wind and solar arrays – and that those involved will consider development in the context of best serving the desert environment and its inhabitants.

Refetoff and Langley’s collaboration grew out of inspiration from legendary 20th century partnerships between writers and photographers commissioned by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Farm Security Administration (FSA), including the work of Walker Evans with James Agee, and Dorothea Lange with Paul Taylor. In the spirit of those legendary projects, “High & Dry: Land Artifacts” seeks a balance of words and images, supporting each other via different perspectives – social, economic, geographical, and historical.

Throughout his work, Los Angeles-based photographer Osceola Refetoff’s interest is in documenting humanity’s impact on the world – the intersection of nature and industry, and the narratives of the people living at those crossroads. He chose to record images for “High & Dry: Land Artifacts” through infrared exposures because of the medium’s aesthetic quality, and its ability to capture dramatic landscapes in “bad” midday light. The raw intensity of the desert’s vastness, and the graphic relationship between land and sky are accentuated. “It’s another kind of light, one we can’t actually see with our own eyes,” says Refetoff, “yet an accurate representation of the world, just through a different wavelength.”

Christopher Langley is a life-long educator who has lived in and studied the Mojave Desert for more than 45 years. He and his wife, who met in the Peace Corps, wanted to raise a family, in a “severely rural” location outside the stream of everyday life; they love the desert and positively contributing to its evolution. Working as a film historian, founder of the Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine, and Inyo County Film Commissioner, he focuses on the desert’s complex relationship with cinema, and how land plays an essential role in the story of our lives. Co-founder of the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group, Langley’s environmental advocacy has won the National Conservation Cooperation Award. His writing is widely syndicated and includes three books on California’s arid landscape.

Langley and Refetoff have collaborated since 2013 on High & Dry, which is a regular feature on KCET’s Emmy-winning program Artbound. The artists encourage visitors to bring a single item – something non-toxic – that they would like to leave behind for future generations in a time capsule to be created in conjunction with this exhibit.

“High & Dry: Land Artifacts” is part of “Forest for the Trees,” a group of exhibitions opening May 12 at MOAH also featuring shows with work by Constance Mallinson, Greg Rose, Sant Khalsa, Timothy Robert Smith, and Robert Dunahay. The Lancaster Museum of Art and History (www.lancastermoah.org) is located at 665 W Lancaster Blvd, Lancaster, CA 93534. It is dedicated to strengthening awareness, enhancing accessibility and igniting the appreciation of art, history and culture in the Antelope Valley through dynamic exhibitions, innovative educational programs, creative community engagement and a vibrant collection that celebrates the richness of the region.

http://www.desertdispatches.com/
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/projects/high-dry
http://www.ospix.com/

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