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Thomas Macker
In The Pines Books
Artists' Books
18.5 × 26.5 × 1 cm

Conceptually, the publication is structured horizontally, with two formally similar series of photographic works bridged by photographs and sculptural objects that offer a dialogic counterpoint to the main series. The first group of photographs focuses around seed signs and sacks advertising distinct crop strains of genetically modified corn and soy. The individual sacks and signs are set up at the center of still life compositions, staged in the basement of Macker’s home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The sacks hang from the fiberglass insulation and wooden boards of the basement ceiling, while the signs are placed in gravel on the floor. The backdrops, often constructed by hanging used textiles against the gold-painted walls of the basement, offer glimpses of American nostalgia — old quilts featuring Winnie The Pooh, The Transformers, and Disney Princesses, along with faded floral sheets, tie-dye hangings, penguins. The series is presented as a calendar of images; each photograph is named for a month of the year, with an additional one for each season. The repetition in the photographs acts as a meditation on the ways we mark time, while the content of the images posits company branding as a primary signifier of cultural and personal identity: nostalgia and desire for meaning coopted by companies that alter the foundation of our sustenance.

In Macker’s work, the ‘seed’ — as altered commodity — locates the collision between the idea of the natural world as something outside and other than human, and the natural world as what we are (as animals who eat food grown from seeds, eat animals who have eaten plants grown from seeds, breathe air full of oxygen created by photosynthesis, and on and on). This space of collision and contradiction is where Macker argues we reside, and the photographic and sculptural pieces that bridge the two still life series in the exhibition offer a glimpse of the effects of that lived contradiction. Dog God | Man Camp | Big Piney, WY shows a coyote impaled by a pole and posed with its head up (as if howling), a scene Macker found and documented next to one of the “Man Camps” of trailers that have sprung up throughout the Gaslands of Wyoming, the Dakotas, Colorado and Iowa to house temporary gas line workers. Another shows the snow-filled landscape where Matthew Shephard was beaten and killed, the only marker of that moment of cultural mourning and instigator of progressive action now a gas company pole. Bumper stickers Macker stole from trucks in Wyoming and printed onto vintage glass tiles depict bikini-clad women alongside text that reads ‘Just Frack It’, and, a digitally rendered bust of a disembodied pregnant torso hangs next to a digitally rendered image of a Molatov cocktail. Reproduction, destruction, re-birth, identity, and verbal and physical languages of dominance comingle with cultural hope and yearning — a yearning that always seems to leave violence in its wake.

In the second still life series, the seed signs have b


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