“Jason DeMarte: Garden of Artificial Delights,” an exhibition on view at the U-M Museum of Art, presents an enigmatic world filled with unexpected and unsettling sensory temptations.
In the immersive installation of photographs and wallpaper, Michigan-based photographer Jason DeMarte weaves together detailed images of fauna (birds, caterpillars, and moths) and flora (local plants and flowers). Each scene is set against ominous cloudy skies, which rain melted ice cream, whipped topping, candies, and glossy paint. Overburdened with decorations, the flowers and plants begin to decay, leaving the birds and insects unable to survive for long in this overly sweet environment.
“DeMarte’s illusionistic landscapes recall the long tradition of still life painting in Europe and America, and a rich history of fantasy environments represented in literature and film—from Alice’s Wonderland to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory,” writes Jennifer Friess, assistant curator of photography at UMMA. “Yet, his images decidedly foreground the complicated visual circumstances of our contemporary moment and provoke us to consider this imagined and oversaturated world as analogous to our own.”
“Jason DeMarte: Garden of Artificial Delights” is on view at UMMA June 8–Sept. 1.
On Aug. 11 at 3 p.m. Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum curator Dr. David Michener will join exhibition curator Jennifer Friess in the UMMA media gallery for an “In Conversation” event. Michener and Friess will explore connections between the real and imagined elements of DeMarte’s fantastical landscapes and the rich social histories embedded in representations of plant life. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Click here to register.