|Maslen & Mehras' collaborative practice explores ideas that revolve around the meeting point and overlapping of nature and culture. Works take the form of photography, installation, sculpture and drawing.
In the Mirrored and Native series, Maslen & Mehra have found themselves immersed in non digital photographic techniques, in an age of digital photography and Photoshop trickery. For these series they create temporary interventions in natural and urban landscapes which they then capture with a medium format film camera. Further series such as Under Construction and Endangered Americans combine photography, collage and drawing.
For the Mirrored series, M & M photograph or appropriate imagery of people, which are then fabricated into mirrored sculptures. The sculptures are set up in various compositions in different contexts and re-photographed with a medium format camera. The Mirrored series sees people from an urban context placed in a more natural environment. As city dwellers go through their day to day lives it is easy for one to forget about the experiences of wide open spaces, clean air, the smells of plants, the sounds of birds etc.. The Mirrored series relocates these people in mid stride, mid conversation to an altogether incongruous context.
Skateboarders appear in the scrubby bush of Western Australia, Catwalk models strut on a volcanic beach in New Zealand, Commuters walk amidst the wildflowers of the Mojave Desert. The juxtaposition of highly urban people placed in more natural landscapes result in works that raise issues of human existence on earth and alludes to the impermanence and fragility of mankind.
In the Native series, Maslen & Mehra research fauna that are, or once were, indigenous to the country in which they are photographed. Mirrored sculptures of animals are placed in built urban environments and reflect the man-made structures around them. Examples from the Native series include a Camargue Horse in front of the Louvre, Paris; a European Wolf and Red Squirrel in the Docklands, London; Lynx in an abandoned graffiti-covered warehouse in Berlin. An example is European Wolf Red Squirrel - Docklands - London 2007 - sculptures were placed in the highly urban Docklands city business district of London. The last European Wolf in the United Kingdom is purported to have died in 1743. The native red squirrel population has been devastated by the introduction of the hardier grey squirrel but small groups of native reds survive.
The imagery from both these series suggests a place where we can have our cake and eat it too. A paradise where we strive to co-exist with the flora and fauna of the planet and a place where we can live in our urban realities but somehow still remain connected to nature.
The series Under Construction utilises collage to create imagery that raises questions about the never ending spread of urban development. Ghost-like construction machinery and mysterious road signs appear in landscape imagery such as Death Valley, California, Australia, New Zealand, and Wales. Are today's areas of conservation the prime property of tomorrow? Can the aims of conservationists compete with world economics and the needs of soaring global populations?
Endangered Americans is the title of a series of composite works, which combine photographic collage and drawing. One half of the work is a photographic hand-cut collage, which integrates ghost-like images of big American cars into landscapes. The other half is a drawing of an endangered indigenous American plant rendered in metallic car paints.
Maslen & Mehra have exhibited widely internationally including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, South Korea, South Africa, Russia, UK, and the USA.
Maslen & Mehra