2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground All photos courtesy of Mark Woods
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA
2016
All photos courtesy of Mark Woods

Seeking Higher Ground investigates, in installation form, the confluence of the structure of Suyama Space and the topography, history, and urban design of the landscape surrounding it. Even though it may appear appear provisional, this installation has been developed over time -  built with objects that have been constructed, then intentionally damaged or dismantled and reused in new configurations to allow the objects' experiential history to be an integral part of the form, structure, and conceptual meaning. The title, "Seeking Higher Ground", alludes to not only the spectre of rising sea levels, but also to the ethical and psychological ramifications of the built environment as laid out by the visionary architect, Lebbeus Woods. Woods, who died in 2013 in Manhattan during Hurricane Sandy, wrote about architecture, war, and the body, as well as envisioning radical free spaces and impossible-to-build structures. 

The installation takes the infamous 1912 Denny Hill Regrade as a jumping-off point. During the regrade, the massive hill that overlooked the waterfront and held some of the west coast's architectural jewels, was razed to make way for speculative economic development. At Suyama, resting in the upper beams of the gallery - beams that harken back to Seattle's early days as a logging town - are small scaffold-like pedestals holding models of houses attached to chutes carrying paint from the upper beams to the floor, where paint collection platforms have been constructed. These constructions consider the last property owner holdouts during the regrade, when homes were isolated on tall pedestals of dirt during the dig-out. The paint is meant to follow the path of dirt sluiced from the hill into Elliot Bay and into the waterfront neighborhoods, including Bell Town.

On the Northern side of gallery, a hill-form, representing a "ghost", a sort of structural mourning for the hill and its inhabitants. A video contained within the structure is designed as a psychological re-presentation of the SR 99 machine currently digging underneath Seattle's waterfront, the large, unpopular urban redesign effort could be seen as a contemporary version of the Denny Hill regrade. Instead of depicting the SR99 literally, another kind of machine is working and churning underground, producing images originally created by historically disenfranchised groups during times of oppression and isolation from the mainstream, redrawn, and intuitively placed deep within the thought-map of the represented terrain, again, as a plan, or wish for something new.

I would like to thank Beth Sellars, curator of Suyama Space, Suyama Space Friends, and George and Kim Suyama for their support during the installation of this project.

This project was also supported by the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant fund.
Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA

Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA
Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA

Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA
Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA

Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA
Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA

Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA
Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA

Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA
Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA

Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA
Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA

Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA
Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA

Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground

Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA

Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA
Patte Loper 2016 Seeking Higher Ground
Installation View, Seeking Higher Ground, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA

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