Steven Baris

    • Drift E5
    • Oil on Canvas
    • 49"x49"
    • Landscape with Daisy Chair E1
    • Oil on Canvas
    • 49"x49"
    • Drift E6
    • Oil on Canvas
    • 49"x49"
    • Drift E7
    • Oil on Canvas
    • 49"x49"
    • Oil with Daisy Chain D1
    • Oil on Mylar
    • 24"x24"
    • Drift D28
    • Oil on Mylar
    • 24"x24"
    • Drift D30
    • Oil on Mylar
    • 24"x24"
    • A Whole New Distance A2
    • Oil on Mylar
    • 14"x14"
    • A Whole New Distance A5
    • Oil on Mylar
    • 14"x14"

Artist Statement

Each work is a separate response to a unique and largely overlooked type of landscape that is emerging along America’s metropolitan fringes. These pockets of former fields and forests are rapidly transforming into constellations of massive horizontal buildings known as “distribution” or “fulfillment” centers.” This is a thoroughly new kind of liminal space, re-tooled solely to facilitate the rapid, frictionless flow of commodities to and from practically anywhere—high performing, expertly engineered, leveled, paved and interconnected by ever expanding networks of highways and communication systems: the smoothest and fastest space possible.

I have always been sensitive to my spatial surround. I grew up on various American Indian reservations in the West (my father worked for the U.S. Bureau of India Affairs) where I lived in relatively unpopulated environments from lush forests to the Great Plains. Moving to the Northeast to attend graduate school, my spatial antennae afforded me a unique perspective on radically different kinds of spaces. I was especially fascinated by the rapidly developing tracts of land that lay beyond the urban centers and their contiguous suburbs—what is often referred to as exurbia. I was immediately taken by the spatial disorientation I felt driving the expressways through these areas. So much space and so few points of access. So much mobility yet so constricted and channeled. It was here that I began to observe these remarkable buildings and their thorough transformation of the surrounding countryside.

The imposing structures that define these spaces—the distribution centers—present to me a perfect geometric vocabulary for visualizing the mostly invisible economic forces that are transforming these regions. As with so much art from the most ancient to the contemporary, my pieces attempt to realize a provisional join between the visible and the invisible, the concrete and the conceptual. Of course space—my leading protagonist—is, technically speaking, invisible as are the abstract economic forces determining our access and experience of contemporary space and place. Ultimately I can only hope the work in this exhibition is adequate to giving form to these unprecedented spatial experiences.