On view March 16 through June 2, 2024.
Amid evolving environmental and cultural shifts, there emerges a space for thoughtful yet whimsical reflections on an increasingly challenging reality. The tensions between our natural and built world—amplified by intensifying climate conditions—form the backdrop for Olalekan Jeyifous: Even in Arcadia… Drawing inspiration from the Arcadian myth, the exhibition juxtaposes picturesque portrayals of idyllic pastoral life with glimpses of a retrofuturist urban protopia set within the Hudson Valley. In leveraging both the artistic and literary motifs of Arcadia, the exhibition engages us in considering the possibilities and challenges posed by an inventive world-making process that is simultaneously shaped by the polished echoes of historical ideals, contemporary socio-political anxieties, and the uncertainty of our future aspirations.
Arcadia, historically regarded as an emblem of bucolic tranquility and unspoiled wilderness, is creatively reinterpreted in the eclectic assemblage of photomontages, an experimental video, and small-scale sculptures on view. Depicting a community of characters, spaces, and objects that populate a rich fictional world, Jeyifous provides a window into a dense, multifaceted narrative. The works artfully weave the promising ideals of solar/salvage punk—themes of renewable energy, environmental sustainability, the imaginative repurposing of post-industrial detritus, and the transformative re-wilding of [ex]urban spaces—into an irreverently evocative fever dream.
In addition to referencing the visual motifs of retrofuturism and solar/salvage punk, the exhibition also engages with the contentious history of the Hudson River School, a landscape painting movement active in the mid-19th century. By contrasting bucolic renderings of Hudson Valley landscapes with a nuanced, sustainable model for a post-industrial community in the region, Jeyifous satirizes the art movement while mapping his vision for a productive and fruitful relationship between the land and its inhabitants.
Jeyifous’ pluralistic relationship to futurity is informed by a protopian growth model. Rejecting the fixed paradigms of utopian thought, the exhibition instead presents an alternate timeline while recognizing the continuous, messy, and iterative process necessary to move toward more equitable societal structures. Through this protopian lens, Jeyifous’ work interrogates the potentialities of harmonizing reconstituted technological advancements alongside ecological stewardship.
Olalekan Jeyifous: Even in Arcadia… is curated by Julia van den Hout, Senior Architecture Curator with Guy Weltchek, Curatorial Assistant.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Olalekan Jeyifous received a BArch from Cornell University and is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work re-imagines social spaces that examine the relationships between architecture, community, and the environment. He has exhibited at esteemed venues including the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Vitra Design Museum, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, where his artwork is featured in the permanent collection of the Department of Architecture and Design. In addition to an extensive exhibition history, Olalekan has spent over a decade creating large-scale installations for a variety of public spaces and was co-commissioned to design a monument for Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm as part of the City of New York's "She Built NYC" initiative. Olalekan has garnered numerous awards, including the notable Silver Lion at the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale. Additionally, he is a recipient of the 2021 Fellowship by the United States Artists, has been a Wilder Green Fellow at MacDowell, and completed artist residencies at the Bellagio Center, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, and The Drawing Center's Open Sessions program.
Art Omi’s programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.
Major support for this exhibition is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Mellon Foundation.