Precarious Balance

Friday, August 21, 2015 to Sunday, November 1, 2015



Talia Greene’s work is about our relationship to nature and, despite our efforts to tame it, its inescapable power over us. To understand the present, she looks to the past — appropriating, mimicking, and referencing historic imagery. Her techniques combine historic and current practices, bridging digital imaging with collage, painting, and drawing. At first glance, Greene’s works often seem to be artifacts of the past, but closer inspection reveals subtle interventions and impositions that push the viewer into a more complex relationship with the subject.

In the series of prints, Ruination, Greene references representations of ruins in the Romantic tradition, and taps into our timeless fascination with crumbling civilizations. She reimagines images of recent disasters, suggesting a future in which the sites are given back to nature as wildlife preserves. Each of the sites sit on a continuum between man-made and natural disasters: from the catastrophic loss of life in the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh, to the devastation following the breached levies during Hurricane Katrina. Through a painstaking process of rendering the destruction line by line and then rebuilding a space of renewal atop the devastation, the works become not only intimate memorials but also personal acts of catharsis. Although the new images suggest a kind of romantic re-birth, closer inspection reveals new potential for destruction on a scale less striking to the human eye; a destruction perpetrated by nature on itself.

In the series, Precarious Balance, animals are meticulously rendered in spaces that are empty, save for suggestions of architectural remains. Their detailed rendering, reminiscent of the illustrations that Victorian naturalists intended as a faithful document of animals in their natural habitat, belies their unnatural activities. Here they are perched atop one another, scrambling for prominence. These animals seem forced into unsustainable positions, perhaps as a consequence of diminishing space. The idea of an environment out of whack is taken to a place of absurdity.

Emerging from unexpected corners of the gallery are playful vignettes that counterpoint the seeming formality of the prints. The vignettes create a bridge between the incredible and what may seem possible.  A hawk stands atop a pile of dead passenger pigeons. An endangered condor stands wistfully atop a pile of rubble. In one corner of the space, brambles covered in ants seem to push through from an adjacent space.

On the surface, the branches seem to underly the pervading suggestion of ruin. In fact, they point to a more hopeful symbiosis. The spiky pods that grow on the brambles are inspired by the whistling thorn acacia tree, which grows pods for the sole purpose of feeding ants which live on the tree. In turn, the ants protect the tree from animals that would otherwise cause its destruction. Amidst the wreckage, a suggestion of another way is found in an unlikely place.


Talia Greene received her BA from Wesleyan University, and her MFA from Mills College. She has recently been awarded  an Independence Foundation Fellowship Grant and the Peter Benoliel Fellowship from the Center for Emerging Visual Artists. She was awarded a Fleisher Wind Challenge Exhibition in 2014, and a solo exhibition from the Print Center’s International Photography Competition in 2013. This fall, she will present a site specific installation at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York City. Greene has also had solo exhibitions at American University Museum, Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, and Electric Works, San Francisco, and group shows at venues including the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, MD, The Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art in Charleston, SC, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Rosa, CA, Arsenal Gallery, New York, NY, Wave Hill, Bronx, NY, and Flashpoint Gallery in Washington DC. Greene is an Adjunct Professor at Drexel University, an Assistant Adjunct Professor at University of the Arts, and a member of the Philadelphia collective Grizzly Grizzly.

An opening reception will be held on Friday, August 21 from 5:30 - 9:00pm at 6300 Fifth Avenue.