John Roloff - Morphology of Change

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.

Morphology of Change, November 1999

Morphology of Change, an exhibition of a new installation by the American artist John Roloff, opens Thursday, November 11th at Lance Fung Gallery. In Morphology of Change Roloff once again achieves an experimentation and provocation on level with his past landscape projects, installations, sculptures and environmental art. His geology inspired furnace projects in the landscape of the late 70’s through the early 90’s (Saskatchewan, Canada, Hartford, CT, Arvada, CO…), experimental works with greenhouses and plant materials of the 80′s and 90′s (Smithsonian Institution, San Francisco, CA, Santa Barbara, CA…) and the large-scale photographic works shown in Dialogues with Nature at Lance Fung Gallery in 1998 form the background for this new work. As a conceptual extension of this earlier work, the installation done for Morphology of Change incorporates architecture, natural systems and formal considerations in an interior/exterior setting referring to such diverse attitudes as the 19th century sublime, process art, earth works, and baroque philosophy.

In the essay, John Roloff’s The Rising Sea, Robert C. Morgan wrote, “Like many artists of his generation, Roloff is not east to identify in terms of a particular medium. He has been called a sculptor and environmental artist, but he is much more than that. He functions on a conceptual level, meaning that he foregrounds the ideas he is seeking to clarify through his art. By foregrounding the ideas, the medium or media becomes secondary to the extent that he uses what is necessary in order to express the ideas.” Further in the same essay Morgan states, “The larger point for John Roloff in these site-specific installations is that nature is bigger than our understanding of it. The order of nature is bigger than any order we can impose upon it, and that it is a resilient force.”

The focus of the exhibition will be a large singular work, Holocene Terrace, referring to the Holocene Era, the geologic period of our contemporary time. Holocene Terrace is a primarily transparent, wood-framed structure that extends the open portion of one of the gallery’s street-facing windows into the center the exhibition space. Within the constructed chamber and connected only to the outside world is a field of living moss subjected to the environmental conditions present during the run of the exhibition; on dry days the moss will be a dormant gray color, on rainy days–to the extent that weather can reach within the structure–a vibrant green. As an extension of the physicality and process aspects of his earlier work, gallery viewers will be able to observe a section of the exterior environment penetrating deep into the gallery space and its effect on the moss’s condition. Holocene Terrace investigates two resonate themes of Roloff’s work, one that relates architecture and human activity in general to larger natural and geologic systems, the second, in a similar way to the earlier landscape furnaces and other environmental works, where a force (in this case organic vitality as condition of contemporary climate) is made visible in a confined environment and a dialog ensues between nature, the structure and its contents.