The Controlled Wild

The Controlled Wild is a term I thought up in order to name a particular paradoxical condition present in human behavior. This condition is reflected in our conduct and how we occupy land, and how we relate to and interact with other species. It is evident in many parts of the world, but is particularly true in the western United States.

The Controlled Wild in my view, is the tension between the desire for control, for power, and the equal and opposite desire for abandon, for wildness, for freedom from convention. Friedrich Nietzsche chose to use Greek mythology, and the Apollonian (rationality, logic and order) and Dionysian ( chaos, emotion and instinct) tensions to describe this condition in his book The Birth of Tragedy.

In my view, the prolific use of barbed wire on the land in the western United States (of course it has many other applications in numerous places) is an example of this control, a measure of visual and physical supremacy on the land in order to protect the concepts of systemic control, so as to keep domestication in and wildness out, so to speak. This has had an enormous effect on our relationships with each other and with other species. For example, for many people, gone are the days when you can walk to your neighbors house directly, but must first go out to a road, walk it, and then turn in. Imagine how other larger species have to negotiate this ongoing tension.

I began to paint my own interpretation of this and other derivative tensions from The Controlled Wild almost three years ago, and continue to expand on some of my original ideas around land, boundaries, and wildness. Here is an example,

night owl, acrylic on canvas, 21” x 29”, 2019

night owl, acrylic on canvas, 21” x 29”, 2019

I have asked five other artists to participate in a group show, and interpret the meaning of The Controlled Wild. It will be interesting to see each artists use of materials and intellectual freedom, and our work in conversation with each other.

nick evite.jpg

More next month
Nicholas Emery
September 22nd, 2019.