• A Negotiable Utopia: The Humboldt Bay Project
    Cynthia Hooper
    First Street Gallery, Humboldt State University, Eureka
    Sep 30, 2014 to Nov 02, 2014
    Cynthia Hooper

Still from Power, 2014, single-channel color video, running time: 10 minutes. Courtesy of Cynthia Hooper.

This exhibition of six observational documentary videos and accompanying essays examine and interpret the built environment of Humboldt Bay—California's second largest estuary. The Bay's complex infrastructure, economic zones, and conservation areas create a terrestrial armature for potent dialogue about virtually every aspect of local culture—dialogue that is by turns affirming and adversarial, and which also works both for and against attempts by outsiders to define this region's unique identity. The videos and essays attempt an attentive and equitable evaluation of these complicated and affective sites, and also provide an atypical community venue for aggregating and evaluating this region's issues, contingencies, and unexpectedly globally networked terrain. With measured interpretive analysis and steady observational strategies, this project presents a both comforting and counterintuitive picture of this community's beloved and contested physical environment, and also celebrates and complicates this shared and intimate experience of place.

Cynthia Hooper's videos and interdisciplinary projects investigate landscapes transfigured by social and environmental contingency. Her work is generously observational, analytically engaged, and proposes a nuanced, reflective, and often sympathetic reception for the sites she examines. She has worked with Tijuana's complex urban environment and infrastructure, contested water issues along the US/Mexican border, and considered varied water and land-use issues in California and Ohio. Recent exhibitions include: the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City; the Centro Cultural Tijuana; and MASS MoCA. Her most recent publication can be found in Arid: A Journal of Desert Art, Design, and Ecology. Hooper has also been awarded a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts and a Djerassi James Irvine Foundation Fellowship, as well as a Gunk Foundation grant. She received her BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute.