John Roloff - Dialogue with Nature

John Roloff, Slump (Orchard) II, 1998. B&W photograph, wood, 14 ft.(4.3 m) h x 24 ft.(7.3 m) w x 18 ft.(5.5 m) d.

John Roloff, Slump (Orchard) II, 1998. B&W photograph, wood, 14 ft.(4.3 m) h x 24 ft.(7.3 m) w x 18 ft.(5.5 m) d.

Dialogue with Nature, May 1998

As a conceptual extension of this earlier work, the large photographic works in Dialogues with Nature incorporated arboreal and geologic images, process and formal considerations in an interior setting referring to such diverse attitudes as the 19th century sublime, process art, earth works and baroque architecture. Here a site-related installation of the image of an almond orchard was made of photographic paper extending from the ceiling of the main gallery wall down and out across the floor. As an extension of the physicality and process part of his environmental projects, gallery viewers were able to walk on the image and thus “enter” the transformed orchard.

In the Arts Magazine article on his work, writer Jennifer R. Crohn wrote about Roloff’s furnace and related works, “Instead of dully resigning his imagination to the assumption that understanding of natural phenomena depletes the world of magic, Roloff stages demonstrations in which the inverse is shown to be true, leaving behind events and objects whose associative qualities span or leap magically suspended, between the need to know and the need to believe. ” In the Artforum review of Vanishing Ship (Greenhouse for Lake Lahontan), critic Bill Berkson wrote about Roloff’s glass ship installation, “…Vanishing Ship had the force of a pristine reminder, a compact hymn to actuality as much as a clear-eyed lament for humankind’s stunted, or otherwise waylaid, physiographic imagination.” These observations bring out a subtext in much of Roloff’s work where formal and material consideration is but one layer in a complex system of emotional, ecological and primal responses to nature.