Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison by Patricia Lanza

an american couple Robert and Shana Parke HarrisonThe fine art photography of embodies a world of surreal and symbolic images, where Robert is the main character. Their photographs have been exhibited in more than 45 solo exhibitions and more than 100 group exhibitions worldwide and their work is also found in more than thirty-five collections, including the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution, the George Eastman House, the Whitney Museum. , LACMA and SFMOMA. Their book, the architect’s brother was named one of the “Ten Best Photography Books of the Year in 2000 by The New York Times.”

“Our photographs offer visual poems of loss, human struggle and personal exploration with landscapes scarred by technology and overuse. As collaborative artists, we strive to metaphorically and poetically connect laborious actions, idiosyncratic rituals, and oddly crude machinery into narratives about our contemporary experiences. We build elaborate sets from found objects. Our scenes combine real and constructed landscapes. These scenes have a sense of determination and irony while addressing humanity’s responsibility to repair the damage inflicted on the environment.

The staged images offer endless possibilities for exploration while providing viewers with personal interpretation. By allowing viewers to complete the story in front of them, we allow the agency to take hold of them. We develop layers of duality, hope and despair, success and failure, desire and contempt, destruction and stewardship. We explore the fragile human condition and the dominant shadow of environmental destruction. Perhaps the only hope for the world and our human spirit lies in our ability to imagine. ParkHarrison

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Patricia Lanza: Your work focuses on the Anthropocene, the human effect on the earth. How did you come to use it as a theme and narrative?

ParkeHarrison: The Anthropocene, Global Warming, Climate Change, The End Times, The Great Judgment, The End Of The World As We Know It. In the early 1990s, when our ideas began to materialize into elusive but coherent images, these terms weren’t even discussed in the media or popular culture. It was a concern for many scientists and scholars, but not for the rest of us. We were in graduate school in New Mexico. We were two naive kids from suburban families in the Midwest. Beyond being sent to our rooms for failing to turn off the lights during the energy crisis, we never even thought about climate change. Our exposure to the stunning raw beauty of the New Mexico landscape, the fascinating religious practices and worldview of the Hopi and other Indigenous peoples, and the overwhelming imprint of the military and industrial complex American (Los Alamos National Labs and White Sands/Trinity Site) These elements, along with our performance-based photography tendencies and our desire to create purpose-bound art, merged into images focused on human behavior. humanity towards the Earth.

Patricia Lanza: Your work is a collaboration, how did it go?

ParkeHarrison: Our collaboration has grown organically over many years and many deep conversations about art. We were each in graduate school for creative endeavours. Our collaboration started by helping each other and slowly grew/merged our interests and technical leanings.

Patricia Lanza: As co-creators, discuss your process of developing and building photography, including technically and in content?

ParkeHarrison: Our process is based on research, contemplation and experimentation. Our images show a confluence of concerns and topics that interest us, including:

Politics, human behavior, drama, dance, religion, literature, cinema, environmental topics, science, metaphysics and so on. We usually start new work by revisiting old work: how ideas worked as images, how they failed to fully embody our intent. We combine this information with topics of interest. From there, we start looking for a butterfly effect type process. Ideas take us down rabbit holes where we find new interests. All this research leads to drawings. Designs lead to the integration of accessories, often based on discarded materials and demystified devices. We then play with these objects, often inventing new endings for

old machinery. We start testing images in the landscape and experimenting with possibilities beyond our initial ideas. Finally, we photograph images to be combined in the darkroom or in Photoshop. Once the images are printed, they are not necessarily complete. Often they will be painted to show off/coat them.

Patricia Lanza: You illustrate the theme in a surreal world full of symbolism. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

ParkeHarrison: It would be great to walk around the store to the island of inspiration! Making art requires daily practice, skill development and constant curiosity. We draw inspiration through constant concentration.

Patricia Lanza: What or who are your influences?

ParkeHarrison: Cultural and environmental writings, theatre, cinema, dance, religion, politics, literature. Artists that come to mind today: Bill McKibben, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Robert Wilson, Joseph Beuys, Andrei Tarkovsky, Wim Wenders, Louise Bourgeois, Pina Bausch, Ohad Naharin and so many more!

Patricia Lanza: How can the creation of ART have an effect on important issues? What do you expect in yours?

ParkeHarrison: Visual art often involves the individual viewer forming their own interpretation of the artwork they are engaging. We try to create work that asks questions, work that allows the viewer to come in and form their own story and personal meaning. We create works influenced by the philosophy of Joseph Beuys.
He believed that art has the ability to promote change. By allowing viewers to freely engage with the world we create, viewers find their purpose and response to the topics we talk about, including environmental action.

Patricia Lanza: Tell us about your latest photographic series and exhibition?

ParkeHarrison: We have recently completed a small series of photo-lithographs entitled SOLEIL ROUGE. These images are quite simple in their construction compared to much of our work. Each print contains the isolated figure, the protagonist, engaging in actions, with red interventions. While it was meant to be a small suite of images, we were inspired to continue this work involving interventions. Currently we are experimenting with ideas involving photographic images and sculptural components.

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