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Both borrowing, and breaking from the Situationist International—an artist and activist collaborative who termed their method of mapping how desire affects the urban experience “pyschogeography”—Dustin Yellin’s eponymous series of montages also collapse mental projection through cartography. Here, an exploded catalog of icons, thirsts, dreams, and even nightmares congeal as physical, humanoid, shapes. Instead of the quotidian streets and pathways of everyday life, each work structures a network of picture puzzle allegories that link our minds and bodies to the world metonymically, and back again. Following various associative, and psychedelic logics, Yellin’s totems also allude to the Terracotta Army, a vast array of life-size clay funerary figures entombed within the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. While these ancient figures were meant to serve their leader in the afterlife, the Psychogeographies invite viewers to engage with the legions of their own consciousness and its embodied emotions as well as that of our shared collective society and its infrastructures–on this subject, Yellin often teases that paper itself might soon disappear, and as such, these works might become artificial fossiles trapping the material much like a prehistoric fly in amber.
Dustin Yellin (B. 1975, California) is an artist who lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the founder and director of Pioneer Works, a multidisciplinary cultural center in Red Hook, Brooklyn that builds community through the arts and sciences to create an open and inspired world. In tandem to his institution-building social practice, Yellin’s artwork makes the hidden forces of nature and commerce legible. Drawing on both modernism, and the sacral tradition of Hinterglas painting, Yellin primarily works through a unique form of 3-dimensional photomontage, in which paint, and images clipped from various print media are embedded within laminated glass sheets to form grand pictographic allegories, which the artist calls “frozen cinema”. These totemic and kaleidoscopic works often plumb the history and fate of human consciousness within the Anthropocene. Returning to Pioneer Works, Yellin’s twin practice can be seen as fostering a prescriptive institute on the one hand, while also running a descriptive artist’s studio on the other. His work has been exhibited at Amorepacific Museum, Brooklyn Museum, City Museum, Colección Solo, Corning Museum of Glass, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Museo Del Palacio de Bellas Artes, SCAD Museum of Art, Tacoma Museum, and with Creative Time, amongst many others. Yellin is often featured in diverse media ranging from the New York Times, to Artforum, Vanity Fair, and TED. He holds an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Savannah College of Art and Design.