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Luciana Abait at Loyola Marymount

Luciana Abait, The Maps that Failed Us, digital collage, paper, cardboard, dimensions variable, (2018-2022)

The work of Los Angeles-based, Argentinian-born artist Luciana Abait is the subject of “Luciana Abait: On the Verge,” a survey exhibition presented by Laband Gallery at Loyola Marymount University. This expansive multi-media solo show features more than twenty works from 2017 to 2022, including a new series created just for the exhibition. With a throughline of conjuring imaginary worlds that address the fragility of our eco-systems and portend climate catastrophe, the show opens with an artist’s reception on Saturday, September 24 from 1-3PM. The exhibit runs through December 10.

“On the Verge” was curated by Laband Art Gallery Director Karen Rapp, who says, “I find that Luciana’s depictions of our contemporary climate crisis are likewise overwhelming and invitational. Her palette is sometimes skewed neon and deliberately unnatural which causes an unsettling effect. But, at the same time, she renders her pictures with such intentionally beautiful surfaces and colors to remind us of what is at stake: her landscapes are figuratively pushing at the edge of planetary existence. It’s as if she’s urging us to step into the scene and do something good.”

Born in 1971 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Abait immigrated to the United States in 1997. She draws from her personal feelings of displacement and vulnerability to urge viewers to consider how global warming is wreaking havoc, especially on the lives of climate migrants. For Abait, creating a piece like “The Maps that Failed Us,” — a monumental sculptural installation of the maps of the world placed at random and out of context — makes visible our social, physical, and above all, global interdependence. The artist invites us to consider our collective geographic proximity and universal fate to reorient our sense of shared planetary survival.

Abait created the timely new series “On the Verge” specifically for the exhibition at Laband. These photos were taken at Lake Powell, a water reservoir in the United States that is drying up at an alarming rate due to climate change. Reminiscent of 18th century landscape paintings, the details reveal that you are not looking at a utopia. A garbage dumpster, an asphalt parking lot, structures such as a water pump; these items highlight how the human imprint interrupts the beauty of the natural world and acts as a reminder of actions we can all take to alleviate climate change.

Another show highlight is the site-specific digital projection “Agua” (2021), that has previously been shown only for a few hours at a time as part of several public art projects, and for a few days at the ticketed LA Art Show. For “On the Verge,” it will run every day the gallery is open for the duration of the show, and marks the first indoor installation of the 20-foot-tall projection that is free for the general public to view. The piece’s luminous, cascading waterfall celebrates the beauty and sensuality of water, while also reminding us – in drought-stricken times – of the precariousness of its supply as climate continues to change.

Director Rapp says, “For Luciana, the reality of dwindling waterfalls is obviously devastating but she is harnessing her optimism and hoping to reawaken humanity’s need for rebirth and renewal by conjuring virtual water as a spiritual and existential salve.”

Throughout the exhibition, it is clear that Abait is compelled by the presentation of existential incongruities in her otherwordly landscapes — in color, size, and scale — to convey her ideas.

An artist’s walk-through with Luciana Abait and Gallery Director and curator Karen Rapp will take place on Saturday, October 8 at 2:30PM (the gallery is open until 4PM).

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