Dan Torop: Alkali Desert

by - November 17, 2013

Dan ToropAlkali Desert

November 15 - January 17

Opening reception Friday November 15th 6-8pm

"Time is moving like a motherfucker. So what you gonna do?"
- Mark Twain, Roughing It
Tops Gallery is pleased to present Dan Torop's Alkali Desert. These photographs arose from Torop's obsession with Chapter XVIII of Mark Twain's memoir, Roughing It. Twain, recounting a stagecoach journey across western Utah, enlivens an otherwise dull stretch by vividly contrasting his romantic notion of desert travel with the cruel reality of the actual journey.

One hundred and fifty years later, Torop followed Twain's route, which is still traceable and is still quite remote. Sustained exposure to the desert made something go haywire in Torop's mind. Perhaps it was a madness caused by the alkali desert's proximity to Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, and the memories this provoked of Smithson's mirror displacements. Regardless, Torop drove to Los Angeles, obtained twenty sheets of posterboard, and returned to the desert.

The western Utah desert is a site on which people inscribe. Whether artists, the military, or casino developers, visitors desire to mark this space. Torop marked it with posterboard - sometimes chasing the posterboard by bicycle when it flew away due to high winds. Alkali Desert is a result of this work.

This show consists of color photographs made in western Utah but also some displaced to the Hudson River Valley, near where Twain wrote many novels. These images were made in 2011 and 2012 with a film camera, and are presented as framed 18" x 12" inkjet prints.

Torop is grateful to the Center for Land Use Interpretation for a residency at which much of this work was made. The MacDowell Colony provided him with a residency during which he edited these images and produced a book,Chapter XVIII, which is included in this exhibition. Torop is pleased to show this work at Tops Gallery, which is so near the river on which Twain found his spirit and vividly enacted his stories.

An edition of Torop's Late Summer 2 (2011, 13" x 8½"), is sold as an edition to benefit this collaboration between Tops Gallery and the artist. For details on this exhibition, future projects, or Tops' program, please contact the gallery at info@topsgallery.com.

Dan Torop's Alkali Desert has traveled to the Center for Land Use Interpretation's Exhibit Hall One in Wendover, Utah (where it is currently on display), and was shown earlier this year at The Green Gallery, Milwaukee. Torop's 2010 series of landscapes and portraits, Skydiving, were exhibited at Derek Eller Gallery, New York, and comprised a publication from A-Jump Books. Other collaborative and solo projects include Situation (2012), Virtual Bowery (2008-10), Snowbound (2007),Estimated Landscapes (2005), and Ocean (2000-7). He is currently engaged in a year-long seasonal residency at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in Milwaukee. Torop has contributed to publications including Triple CanopyModern PaintersColumbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, and Paper Monument. He has taught at New York University since 2008.

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