Kota Ezawa: City of Nature
Kota Ezawa’s new film, City of Nature, knits together fleeting excerpts of popular films featuring flora and fauna in order to offer a six-minute cinematic comment on the juxtapositions between nature and culture. Incorporating approximately seventy clips, City of Nature is what the artist calls a “video collage.” This digitally-animated work draws from more than twenty popular films including Brokeback Mountain, Days of Heaven, Deliverance, Der Berg ruft!, Fitzcarraldo, Late Spring, Lord of the Flies, Moby Dick, Swept Away, and Twin Peaks. Similar to the way Madison Square Park displays cultivated and aestheticized aspects of nature in Manhattan’s cityscape, City of Nature examines how popular culture presents “unnatural” visions of nature deeply embedded in cultural memory. The artist’s signature is a flattened style of imagery that pulls from news events and contemporary culture. He is well-known for The Simpson Verdict, a 2002 video animation on the trial of O.J. Simpson, and for his 2019 piece, National Anthem, which focuses on the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who took a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest police violence against Black men.