Ganohonyohk, 1999. Corn husks, string, light fixtures, and sound, dimensions variable. Photo: Naomi Johnson, © Alan Michelson.

Alan Michelson: Light on Shadowed Ground

Sifting through layered realities, Alan Michelson locates critical junctures in the life of occupied sites. His visual enigmas, both substance and illusion, probe the most elemental of relationships—the link between human beings and place. Encompassing a range of media, Michelson’s work has evolved from his beginnings as a painter grounded in the pristine panoramas of the Hudson River School. At a certain point, he began to consider landscape in terms of socialized perspectives, especially territory and domain. At the same time, he discovered his Mohawk ancestry and began to deal with viewpoints in which ground and habitat are inseparable. He became interested in perceptions of land—from imagined landscapes in art to land as a stage for human activity and a dynamic site undergoing both natural and manmade changes. When Michelson encountered Robert Smithson’s “non-sites,” his investigations became focused on intersections of the temporal and the spatial—and ways of bringing previous states of a locale into the here and now.