In his series High Summer (2000–2001), a portfolio of fifteen digital prints, the photographer John Goto creates composite scenes in which contemporary figures disrupt the landscape gardens of eighteenth-century British country houses. These intrusive arrangements of people complicate the carefully contrived gardens with their seemingly natural planting and emblematic classical buildings. Goto’s integration of contemporary characters into historic landscape gardens encourages the viewer to think critically about nature and culture both past and present, and the politics of these gardens then and now.
This student-curated exhibition will explore the historical sites that Goto references in his photographs. Drawing on eighteenth-century views of the gardens at Stowe in Buckinghamshire and Stourhead in Wiltshire from the Center’s collection, Goto’s work will be contextualized to highlight the ways in which the landscapes have been created, adapted, and represented over time to serve particular and sometimes competing ideologies.