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John Roloff, "Holocene Terrace", wood, plexiglas, sheetrock, moss, weather, 8 ft. (2.4 m) h. x 6 ft. (1.8 m) w. x 18 ft. (5.5 m) d., 1999

John Roloff

There is an air of the science museum to John Roloff's mysterious installations and photographs. Large boat-like greenhouse forms host mossy "volunteer" vegetation from deep ocean sediments. Industrial shelving and architectural display spaces reveal processes of sedimentary deposition, the flow of nature through constructed space and glimpses of the geological history of our continent. While alluding to and often displaying directly the evidence of human interruption of these processes, it is as if Roloff presents angled photographs of giant trees, banded sediments and grassy corridors to remind us of our own very brief role as witnesses (and ultimately participants) in these sedimentary phenomena.

Trained as a geologist, John Roloff brings an appreciation for time, stone and fire to his work. Most of his art, from early projects such as his spectacular outdoor kiln sculptures, various artificial "rock" outcroppings and indoor gallery and museum works honor significant phases of planetary history: the Holocene, Mesozoic and Devonian eras.

We are reminded of the geological foundations of our existence from the fossil fuels we pump up from the depths, to the notion of human shelters as mineralogical deposits, to the many plants and natural resources we depend on. Throughout Roloff's work, a somewhat melancholy and inevitable quality to the march of time seems to hang in the air like a mist. His often stark and simple presentations of these phenomena emphasize the incontrovertible nature of the facts. Our palaces and achievements, tragedies and wastelands will one day be reduced to yet another layer in the stratigraphic record.

"Holocene Terrace" [see image] - A horizontal field of native California and Massachusetts moss lines a vitrine-like structure open at one end to the environment of New York City. Installed in the one person exhibition, Morphology of Change, at the Lance Fung Gallery, New York, NY.

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