July 21 – September 11, 2021
On view at Elizabeth Houston Gallery from July 21 to September 11, Daniela Edburg: Waning is an aesthetic exercise in free association, one that draws to the surface of consciousness the delicate symbiosis between human and glacial bodies. Following a thread of thought from her own autoimmune disease to the perils of climate change, Edburg reimagines—in photographic form and felted wool—the tale of Frankenstein as a parable for global warming.
Edburg has long worked in the in-betweens of reality and imagination, crocheting and knitting objects into her compositions as a kind of hand-made fiction. She is most interested in those artistic places where opposites meet and concepts contradict themselves, where the disconnection imposed by bodily illness is overcome by the connections of human creativity. When the summer of 2016 dealt Edburg an unexpected three-month convalescence in bed, recovering from an affliction that left her feeling every inch of her body as a living bruise, she turned—perhaps empathetically—to Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein. The glacial landscape that set the stage for Shelley’s drama drew her attention.
Navigating her own recovering body, Edburg planned a voyage to Mer de Glace, the “sea of ice” in the Alps where Dr. Frankenstein expresses his only moments of joy. But what Shelley’s protagonist describes as a scene of “sublime ecstasy that gave wings to the soul,” Edburg found gravely imperiled. Climate change is melting the largest glacier in France at an alarming rate. For Edburg, Frankenstein’s abandonment of his creature parallels our lack of stewardship of nature. The consequences of our apathy are the global warming that endangers our lives and the environmental degradation that causes illness.
With Shelley’s tale as an unconscious guide, Edburg has captured the likenesses of those glaciers in felt, preserving them in sculptural cedarwood boxes like rare and tiny specimens. The waning of the icebergs, recast by the artist in dripping felted wool, serves as a warning of impending environmental catastrophe. In photographic form, human bodies afflicted with autoimmune diseases mimic the scattered disorder of the remaining ice. In other images, we hold in our hands (or hairdos) the effects of climate change—volatile weather patterns that generate tornadoes and other superstorms with increased frequency.
But Edburg is also, in some sense, a Romantic at heart, albeit one with Gothic leanings. Her Wanderers stare into the expanses of the natural world, recalling Caspar David Friedrich’s 1818 Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, a painting that has oftentimes served as a cover for Shelley’s novel. But where Friedrich’s landscape is a moment of sublimity revealing our place in nature, both insignificant and transcendent at once, Edburg’s photographs reflect the diminishment of the glaciers through our own doing.
In Waning, our relation to the natural world is one that is deeply interconnected, bodily, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Like Frankenstein and his creature, we are locked in a cycle of mutual creation and destruction. We cannot stand apart.
Daniela Edburg attended the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) where she earned her Bachelor’s degree from the School of Visual Arts. Edburg was born in 1975 in Houston, Texas and currently lives and works in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Solo and group exhibitions include Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, France, Photographic Centre Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Oaxaca City, Mexcio, San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts, CA, Contemporary Musuem of Art, Ivanova, Russia and The Denver Art Museum, CO. Her work can be found in the collections of the Museet Astrup Fearnley, Oslo, Norway, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, Art Museum of the Americas, Washington DC, Museo Universitario del Chopo, México DF, Mexico, and the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA. A 2018-2020 Fellowship recipient in the National System of Creators, FONCA, National Fund for the Arts and Culture of Mexico, Daniela was also a 2016 Hamilton Artist at the Denver Art Museum and the University of Denver, a 2013 Laureate of the Photoquai Residencies by the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, France, was a 2012 resident artist with FONCA CONACULTA in collaboration with the Banff Centre, Alberta, Canada, named Best Foreign Artist in the Photography category by Premio Arte Laguna, Venezia, Italia in 2010 and received a 2004 Creation Stimuli Grant from Guanajuato State Institute of Culture, Mexico.