Population Zero is the result of McMenemy’s encounters in Death Valley in the spring of 2015.
Coming across a dilapidated motel, she carefully explored the relics of a once thriving site of Americana. The remains included: a forty-year-old television, torn apart mattresses – their springs wildly exposed, a phone book –filled with information rendered irrelevant. Graffiti covers the barely standing walls, scrawled with a single message: BEWARE.
Despite the derelict condition of these spaces, the artist finds a quality of beauty in the darkness. Although only brimming beneath the surface, the sense of hope is very present in this body of work. We see the outside world framed through decrepit window panes. Like a Dutch painter, McMenemy places us on the inside looking out. The vastness of the desert against an equally expansive blue sky represents freedom, just out of reach.
It is unclear whether the hope McMenemy elicits is for a re-invigoration of civilization or a returning of nature. Regardless of its intended meaning, there seems to be a push towards understanding and accepting the natural cyclical process of time and society. “Nature erases the wound mankind callously inflicted on itself” McMenemy observes, “hope sustains us to awaken the day that the natural world re-engages itself. We will survive in the natural world.”