Symbiosis 2, 2010
Archival inkjet print
10 x 10 inches on 13 x 13 inch paper
Signed Edition of 50
Known for creating whimsical and elaborately constructed photographs, drawings, and sculptures, Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick have been spinning wild visual tales together for more than twenty years. Their practice involves dreaming up complex fictional narratives based on real historical events and injecting them with a wry sense of humor, while sparking new considerations of history and time.
Kahn & Selesnick’s project Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea (2010) features two female protagonists wandering aimlessly in a bizarre Martian landscape that has formerly been inhabited. While there, they encounter detritus from the mysteriously vacated civilization, including pyramids, obelisks, giant balloons, and concrete boats. Comprised of photographs taken by NASA’s Mars rovers and by the artists themselves in the Nevada and Utah deserts, these landscapes have a surreal quality. Inspired by Edmund Burke’s quote from 1756, “Terror is in all cases the ruling principle of the sublime,” Kahn and Selesnick’s view of humankind and the universe is as frightening as it is beautiful. By blending references to both past and future time periods, their work probes our conception of time as a linear phenomenon. In their absurdity and ambiguity they reveal our deep-seated need to cling to what we think we know, and provoke us to let go and experience the fanciful.
Richard Selesnick and Nicholas Kahn have been collaborating as Kahn/Selesnick since 1988. They have both held artist residencies at Addison Gallery of American Art in Massachusetts, the Djerrasi Artist Program in California, and Toni Morrison's Atelier Program at Princeton University. Solo exhibitions include Schottensumpfkunftig, The REC, Past-Future, Scotlandfuturebog, City of Salt, The Apollo Prophecies, Eisbergfreistadt. The two artists met at Washington University in St. Louis, where both studied photography; they currently reside in New York. Nicholas Kahn lives in a converted wooden Dutch church overlooking the Hudson River, and Richard Selesnick lives in a well-gardened townhouse in Brooklyn built atop a former bog.