Dan Torop

Alkali Desert

November 15 2013 - January 17 2014

"Time is moving like a motherfucker. So what you gonna do?"

- Mark Twain, Roughing It


Tops Gallery is pleased to present Dan Torop's Alkali Desert. These photographs arose from Torop's obsession with Chapter XVIII of Mark Twain's memoir, Roughing It. Twain, recounting a stagecoach journey across western Utah, enlivens an otherwise dull stretch by vividly contrasting his romantic notion of desert travel with the cruel reality of the actual journey.

One hundred and fifty years later, Torop followed Twain's route, which is still traceable and is still quite remote. Sustained exposure to the desert made something go haywire in Torop's mind. Perhaps it was a madness caused by the alkali desert's proximity to Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, and the memories this provoked of Smithson's mirror displacements. Regardless, Torop drove to Los Angeles, obtained twenty sheets of posterboard, and returned to the desert.

The western Utah desert is a site on which people inscribe. Whether artists, the military, or casino developers, visitors desire to mark this space. Torop marked it with posterboard - sometimes chasing the posterboard by bicycle when it flew away due to high winds. Alkali Desert is a result of this work.

This show consists of color photographs made in western Utah but also some displaced to the Hudson River Valley, near where Twain wrote many novels. These images were made in 2011 and 2012 with a film camera, and are presented as framed 18" x 12" inkjet prints.

Torop is grateful to the Center for Land Use Interpretation for a residency at which much of this work was made. The MacDowell Colony provided him with a residency during which he edited these images and produced a book,Chapter XVIII, which is included in this exhibition. Torop is pleased to show this work at Tops Gallery, which is so near the river on which Twain found his spirit and vividly enacted his stories.

 An edition of Torop's Late Summer 2 (2011, 13" x 8½"), is sold as an edition to benefit this collaboration between Tops Gallery and the artist. For details on this exhibition, future projects, or Tops' program, please contact the gallery at info@topsgallery.com.