Andrea Bowers’ single-channel video work, The United States v. Tim DeChristopher, collapses the divide between environmental activism and the landscapes that act as both background and subject matter for political action. The video focuses on a 2008 act of civil disobedience in which a Utah student posed as a bidder and disrupted a government auction of 150,000 acres of wilderness to be used for oil and gas drilling. Resulting in his arrest and an eventual 21-months of jail time, this action by Tim DeChristopher highlighted the ease by which the exploitation of natural resources can occur.
Bowers’ video includes an interview with DeChristopher, conducted prior to his trial and sentencing, intercut with footage of the artist walking through the parcels of land that the activist won at auction under false pretense. As Bowers walks alone through these landscapes of the Utah desert in winter, the dwarfing landmarks of red-rock formations lend a ludicrous air to the idea that man could claim ownership over areas of such tremendous size and majesty. Each depicted parcel, labeled with its numerical designation, roots DeChristopher’s abstract bidding in the physical reality of these tracts of land.
Andrea Bowers is an artist living and working in Los Angeles, California, originally from Wilmington, Ohio. She received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 1992. Recent solo exhibitions of Bowers’ work include Whose Feminism is it Anyway? at Andrew Kreps Gallery (New York, NY), Self-Determination at Kaufmann Repetto (Milan, Italy) and Andrea Bowers: #sweetjane at Pomona College Museum of Art (Claremont, CA). Her work has been included in group exhibitions such as Displacement: Symbols and Journeys at Cornell Fine Arts Museum (Winter Park, FL), The Revolution Will Not Be Gray at Aspen Art Museum (Aspen, CO), Drawing Now at Albertina (Vienna, Austria), and Agitprop! at Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY).