A Man Who Walks Across the Field: Artist Talk by Juan Carlos Coppel

July 7, 2019


Last Sunday afternoon, Three shadows artist in residence Juan Carlos Coppel shared his stories and concepts  behind some of  his photo series under the theme "A Man Who Walks across the Field". Born in 1986, Juan is an artist who works and lives in the northern Mexican city, Hermosillo. As a farmer himself, many of his works revolve around agriculture production and how human activity affects nature and land.  Apart from photography, his artistic practice of creation also include video, sculpture, installation and so on, in this talk we chose several his most representative series to share with the Chinese audiences.


Seven Hills  Series


"Seven Hills"Series was his first project in 2014 he ever created. Unlike his experience as a grower, this is the first time he established the connection between him and the land through photography, and this is also the first time he uses photography as a means to express what he feels. In Sonora where he is from, farmland ends where the eye can no longer see, as a background we can see the seven hills, an icon reference in his region. The objective of this project is to reflect about the relationship between humans and nature, humans and the soil, beyond the tools, tractors, supplies, it's about the superior sense of nature that cannot be controlled by humans. We need to remember all the time that human beings are small before nature.



The Crack Series


The crack starts in a symbolic way, Landscape transforms from the power of nature, by natures decision. One day Juan was working in the farm a sudden a huge crack opened ( 2 kilometers long, 10 meters deep and 10 meters wide ), some believe this is the result of irregular use of agricultural wells, while others believe that it is the result of a combined geographical defect and underground rivers. This led Juan to think: Are we humans that depend from this planet doing it right? This fissure happened on a very important time for Mexico society, it gives us the hint of an actual division of racial and economic division we are living in Mexico, this fissure is also a symbol of a pulsing Mexico in eternal transformation.



Agrobinete Sculptures


As a farmer Juan has been collecting objects he found on his daily walks: old mysterious beehives, dead animals, soil, seeds, rocks, organic matter, tools, plastic, among others. All these objects represent very important stages of the agricultural cycle. He reconfigures these collected *waste* ( for others )  in sculptures and almost archeological installations where the landscape is domesticated, for the first time in his work he decides what is landscape in his configuration. He refers this work to the cabinets of naturalist explorers of the seventeen century, records of observations and daily work on the transformation land and presence of time. This series was a critical stage on industrial agronomist process, and at the same time, it reveals textures, reticles, and tissues that highlight our perception of the natural environment.



Quema Series


Burning tires in Mexico is a practice carried by farmers to raise the temperature of the environment and avoid corps and farmland frost in the winter, in this way preserving peoples job, this is one of the main economic activities of the state. But even if such measures provide a guarantee for normal agricultural production, it also brings moral and environmental pollution problems to farmland. The series of photos was taken from farmland in northern Sonora state, these images form an ironic contrast to the 19th-century European landscape, drawing the viewer into contemplation and anxiety about the problems of our time.