FOOD FOR THOUGHT
St. Petersburg’s cultural heritage attracts tourists from all over the world. Paradoxically however, this city, which is so famous for its art, contains relatively few open spaces for contemporary art production and exhibition. Public and private commercial support is generally focused on the reproduction and exploitation of St. Petersburg’s admittedly remarkable past cultural glories. Ellen Harvey’s Food for Thought attempts to present viewers with an alternative open-ended mapping of St. Petersburg that hides in plain sight with the commercial fabric of the city.
In poignant testimony to the ease with which commercial advertising space can be purchased (in direct contrast to the challenges of finding public space for contemporary art installation), Harvey’s artwork is displayed on advertising pillars in the city. At first glance, her painstakingly hand-painted map of St. Petersburg appears to fit seamlessly into the prevalent production of nostalgic cultural experiences. Her map mimics the public maps generally provided for tourists, but it contains no useful information or labels of any kind. The city is reduced to an abstraction where all parts are equally important or useful, where no distinction is drawn between an apartment building and a monument. The only direction given is a collaged photograph of a fork, inviting viewers to devour the city and marking the spot where the exhibitions and performances of Art Prospect 2018: Food for Thought, will be taking place. All are invited to come and take a bite.
Ellen Harvey is a British-born artist living and working in Brooklyn. She is a 2016 recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in the Visual Arts and a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program. She has exhibited extensively in the U.S. and internationally and was included in the 2008 Whitney Biennial. Solo exhibitions include Metal Painting at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, The Unloved at the Groeninge Museum in Bruges, Belgium, The Alien’s Guide to the Ruins of Washington DC at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC, The Nudist Museum at the Bass Museum in Miami Beach, Ruins are More Beautiful at the Center for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, Poland, Mirror at the Pennsylvania Academy in Philadelphia and A Whitney for the Whitney at Philip Morris at the Whitney Museum at Altria in New York. She has completed numerous commissions, including Arcadia for the opening exhibition of the Turner Contemporary in Margate, UK and permanent public works for New York Percent for Art, New York Arts in Transit, the Chicago Transit Authority, the Philadelphia International Airport, the Federal Art in Architecture program and the Flemish National Architect. Her Belgian project Repeat, won the Wivina Demeester Prize for Commissioned Public Art in 2016. She is currently working on Atlantis, a new permanent installation commissioned for the renovation of the Miami Beach Convention Center. Her work has been the subject of several books including New York Beautification Project, published by G. R. Miller & Co. in 2005, Mirror, published by the Pennsylvania Academy in 2006, Ellen Harvey: The Unloved, published by Hannibal in 2014 and Ellen Harvey: Museum of Failure, published by G. R. Miller & Co. in 2015.