Gary Carsley: The Garden of Dr. Con Fabulator

Main Gallery
February 8 – May 31, 2015
"Brisbane Toohey Forrest with Montreal-Chinese Garden Moongate" by Gary Carsley

Opening Reception: February 8, 2 pm – 4 pm

This site-specific installation by Australian artist Gary Carsley, transforms the Art Center’s Main Gallery into an enclosed garden. Built into its walls are five moongates—architectural features that serve as entryways into gardens.  Sculptures are arranged along the walls, and throughout the gallery visitors will find places to sit and converse or contemplate the views.

The moongates in Dr. Con Fabulator’s garden replicate actual moongates from Chinese gardens in five different cities around the world.  These international moongates open up onto views of parks and gardens in five other cities, linking this garden in Summit, NJ to faraway places such as Brisbane, (Carsley’s hometown), Mexico City, Berlin, London and Suzhou.

Carsley has traveled to all of the places represented, so that the visitor can symbolically travel to the same places. The vistas seen through the moongates derive from photographs he has taken in public parks and gardens around the world. Using scanned faux wood grain adhesive foils, he digitally reconstructs the images in a manner that resembles intarsia or inlaid wood.

The garden incorporates a number of sculptures, including five copies of statues found in the Tuileries Garden in Paris.  Rendered as silhouettes cut from floral wallpaper, they resemble shadows on the wall.  A series of five portrait busts made from life represent various members of the Art Center’s community: a staff member, a teacher, a student, a trustee, and a member artist. Also cut from wallpaper, these portraits emerge as negative spaces formed by the wallpaper cutouts.  The use of flowered wallpaper to represent garden sculptures melds the realm of the domestic interior with that of the cultivated garden space.

The exhibition utilizes IKEA furniture—a wardrobe, tables, chairs and stools—all covered with adhesive prints derived from Carsley’s photographs of international parks and gardens.  Two tabletops contain images of extinct parrots from North America and Australia, done in a technique that resembles pietra dura, or inlaid stone.

The garden and the art gallery operate similarly as sights and sites of display, inviting contemplation as well as conversation.  The Garden of Dr. Con Fabulator provides a place where the visitor can happily engage in both activities.

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