fig. 37: Oil (Consuming Landscapes Series)
30"x40" Color Photograph, 1996-7
© Robin Lasser

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Artist Statement
Robin Lasser

My site-responsive work reflects an interest in the interface between nature and culture. My art also reflects a concern with the environment. I am interested in the representation of landscape as a record of human values and actions imposed on the land over time. The photographic images I create are a collaboration between the natural environment, artifice temporarily planted in the landscape (site-specific sculpture built to be photographed), and the transformative qualities inherent in the photograph. My photo based installations, billboards, and public art pieces also address issues of consumption.

The images from the Consuming Landscapes series formally mimic the way our culture projects its own desires upon the land in order to justify its plunder. The 8-foot sculpted eating utensils are placed in the landscape, photographed, and removed from the site. The photographs are place settings, both literally and figuratively. The utensils are made out of the same material that is being ravaged from the site. For instance, in Santa Barbara where the oil derricks dot the coast, the utensils are made out of coal and oil. The combustible materials are set ablaze.

fig. 38: Dirty Dining
Installation, Bedford Gallery, CA, 1995
© Robin Lasser

The photographs from the Consuming Landscapes series are often, but not exclusively, exhibited as photo installation. The installation Dirty Dining displays a dirt covered table, chairs, and utensils, placed on a dirt floor, suggesting an elemental association between the earth and the sustenance we draw from it. By placing the dirty dining table in the center of the cracked mud place setting surrounded by eating utensils, I refer to the notion that we are being consumed as we consume the landscape.

fig. 39: Bulimia at the Recycling Center/Anorexia at Home
Installation, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
© Robin Lasser

In Bulimia in the Recycling Center/Anorexia at Home, I parallel waste with wasting away. The large eating utensils are a way of framing the way our culture consumes itself. Perhaps we are experiencing a cultural eating disorder. Eating disorders mostly occur in opulent cultures whose dominant mode is over-consumption. When I was a child I experienced Anorexia Nervosa. I find it interesting that while our culture consistently over consumes, one out of four women between the ages of 13 and 24 are starving themselves.

The 8x10 foot image is photo-based. The medium is acrylic on canvas. Behind the wall the viewer enters a narrow room containing a video of a young woman morphing between normal weight and a skeletal state while telling a story about her experience with anorexia.

fig. 40: Eating Disorders in a Disordered Culture
"Fear of Fat Eats Us Alive," 28"x40" Iris Print, 1997
© Robin Lasser

Eating Disorders in a Disordered World is an artist's project created for three venues: the World Wide Web (please see www.eating.ucdavis.edu); public art spaces, such as billboards and bus shelter posters; and exhibitions in galleries and museums. The public art aspect of this project took place in Santa Clara County (California) and in Sacramento in the Spring of 1998. The bus shelter and billboards were displayed in February and March to coincide with National Eating Disorder week. Some of the bus shelter posters are based on stories collected from our Web site and from local communities. They represent a unique collaboration between artists, technology and the community.

Eating disorders afflict seven million American women and one million men. Surprisingly, there are few visual materials or images in this culture concerning eating disorders. Our project begins to fill this void.

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All text © Robin Lasser.