Binh Danh at The Photography Show Presented by AIPAD
The Photography Show Presented by AIPAD
Pier 94, New York City
April 5 – 8, 2018
April 4: Vernissage
Purchase Tickets HERE
The Ghosts of Khmer: Light and Memory
In the comfortable histories of our youth, genocide seemed an answered question; the retrograde horrors of a generation removed, a closed book. A decade before the present moment of uncertainty in our global existence, the photographer Binh Danh refused this pat conclusion. Danh’s early work compiled the Khmer Rouge regime’s eerie death portraits—taken in the moments before victims were executed—and transformed them into a living archive of proliferation: Danh devised a method for creating chlorophyll prints on tree leaves, and inscribed hundreds of portraits of lives lost in the Cambodian genocide upon the tree’s organic surfaces.
During his travels to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the former prison and execution site where the Khmer Rouge portraits were taken, Danh found himself drawn to views of the bleak rooms, cases filled with victim’s belongings, beds with shackles, and menacing outdoor spaces. Later, when conceiving of his recent works, Danh remarks, “I was not sure why the images of these places stood out to me. But in thinking about them I began to remember the images we saw from the prison at Abu Ghraib [in Iraq], and it occurred to me that I have actually been thinking about the images of Abu Ghraib since they appeared in the media several years ago. Maybe we have all been thinking about these images.”
In The Ghosts of Khmer: Light and Memory, we are invited to explore the issue of human individuality and responsibility, and the ways those concepts shift over time, in both the ethereal reflective surfaces of Danh’s large-scale daguerreotypes and the images’ paradoxical subject matter. Portraits of genocide victims etched on the daguerreotypes’ silver surfaces recall the bas-relief idols on the walls of Angkor Wat’s temples, which are also the subject of several of Danh’s images.
“With Angkor Wat,” says Danh, “here is this beautiful architectural achievement of art and religion and Buddhist culture. And it was through the beauty of the Angkor Wat temple that the Khmer Rouge emerged, as the regime sought above all to return Cambodia to its glory days. In order to do that, they had to remove anyone who did not go along with their ideology. This is a theme I return to: the darkness and beauty in our history.”
Revisiting the chlorophyll portraits in his current body of work, Danh documents the leaf images with daguerreotype photograms. “Once I make a chlorophyll print, the leaf is fragile and degraded. The daguerreotypes hold that ghostly quality of the chlorophyll print.” The reflective surfaces of Danh’s daguerreotypes act as a mirror, and the portraits are created at human proportions: “You will see the leaf and the portrait,” says Danh, “and you will see your own face overlaying the face of the victim.”
In these photograms Danh invests a personal discourse about the moral implications of photography. He found himself returning to the philosopher Roland Barthes’ description of the role of death in photographic works. Says Danh, “In an image of someone who has passed, they don’t know they’re dead, because they’re alive in the photograph. But we know they’re dead, because we have lived beyond their time.” In this way, continues Danh, “photographs change society and the way we think about time.”
Danh also considered a far earlier transformation in human perception in the process of making these highly reflective works: the introduction of the mirror. Prior to the moment in the thirteenth century when reflective silverized surfaces were popularized as mirrors, humans defined themselves as members of a group. “At the beginning of human evolution, we didn’t see ourselves in a way that required self-reflection. When mirrors became common, humans became individuals and stopped thinking in terms of the group.”
That essential conflict of human life—how we exist simultaneously as individuals, and as very small parts of a much larger pattern—is illustrated in both Danh’s transformative portraits of the dead, and his scenes of vast and ancient Buddhist statuary in symbiosis with the forest around it. Influenced by the early photograms of Henry Fox Talbot and cyanotype prints of nineteenth-century botanist Anna Atkins, Danh’s daguerreotype plates are glimmering tributes to the photographic moment, seeming to capture in monumental scale a world left behind, and a glimpse at the extremes of our tenuous existence.
An homage to both contemporary photographic theory and the black and white binary that defined early photography, the intensely argent surfaces of Danh’s works present a secondary imagery resembling a double exposure, a vibration of shadow and light around the composition’s edges. Whether in the stark chambers of injustice or the luminous expressions of monumental gods, Danh’s images record a secret energy at play in all human endeavors. As we contemplate the mysterious machinations of human destruction, we cannot lose sight of the generative mystery of the Buddha’s form, rising up from the forest floor.
Máximo González / Ato Ribeiro
March 3, 2017 – April 28, 2018
Opening Reception with the Artists
Saturday, March 3, 2018
7:00 – 9:00pm
Minimalist compositions of pattern and form suggest a complex historical and cultural background in the works of Máximo González and Ato Ribeiro. Ribeiro’s hand-worked wooden quilts speak to the merging of cultures that is a primary facet of contemporary life, as well as the changing conceptions of communication and material that will shape our planet’s future. González’s works in devalued currency propose a canny political critique in the form of the subverted materials from corrupt power structures.
Máximo González is recognized internationally for installations composed entirely of detritus and cast-asides, and he is known in particular for his work with devalued currency. Suggesting roiling collections of empty photo frames, sisyphean mazes, and stacks of grids and files, González’s works draw attention to both the emptiness within these structures and the aimless bureaucratic paperwork that predicates them. The ability of the artist to repurpose paper evidence of corruption and mismanagement into an interrelated series of delicate and enchanting objects offers hope: despite the ravages of greed, humans continue to return to basic values of material ingenuity and aesthetic structure.
Formed from the devalued and obsolete Mexican paper bills, González’s works are created using traditional textile and paper crafts including punch-cutting, weaving, and a method similar to the Japanese cut-and-fold technique of kirigami. Through these currency labyrinths, González delineates “the whimsical line of the division of territories, drawn conveniently for the one who traced it… a line that seeks to separate the inside and the outside, desire and wish, entering or leaving; a political labyrinth that is redrawn through centuries, always obeying the same line: the one that is traced by money.”
The wooden quilts of Ato Ribeiro–composed entirely of found and discarded woods–embody a vocabulary of histories and materials compiled across continents and cultures. Woven of repeating shapes and grain patterns determined by both the amount of scrap wood available, and specific methods used in quiltmaking and kente-cloth strip weaving, the resulting works reveal the elegant, essential beauty of Ribeiro’s meticulously collected and catalogued scraps. Ribeiro’s works, like the early African-American quilts that influence them, are both specifically defined and dynamic, containing forms that shift and expand as our eyes adjust to repeating variations in line and shape.
This pattern of constant motion is reflected in Ribeiro’s own life, divided equally between his father’s native country of Ghana, where he spent his early childhood, and the United States, where his mother was born. While studying art at Morehouse College in Georgia, Ribeiro felt compelled to join the geographical and cultural divide: “I needed to connect the two conversations, to bridge the African side and the African-American side.”
Ribeiro fashions this connection in marqueted geometrical forms that draw inspiration from both African kente patterns and the quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. With their intentional use of materials and expansive vocabulary of symbols and patterns, Ribeiro recognized in “the complex modes of communication embedded within these textiles” a parallel to his own experience. In the works’ graphic elements lives a coded language, contemporary evidence of a shared heritage that is independent of words and has existed for centuries.
An opening reception with the Artists will be held on Saturday, March 3, 2018 from 7:00 – 9:00pm
January – February 2018
Angela Ellsworth: Holding Pattern
Luis Gonzalez Palma: El Sol
Siri Devi Khandavilli: Selfie Queens
Reynier Leyva Novo: La extension de las palabras (The Extension of Words)
January 13 – February 23, 2018
Opening Reception with Angela Ellsworth and Siri Devi Khandavilli
Saturday, January 13, 2018
7:00 – 9:00pm
Devising unexpected connections between spiritual practice and contemporary sense of self, the works of Angela Ellsworth, Luis Gonzalez Palma, and Siri Devi Khandavilli grant their viewers access to patterns of perception and the generative power of the physical gesture. Ellsworth’s mysterious, entrancing objects and performances draw lines of communication between her Mormon ancestry and the work of mid 20th-Century spiritualists; Luis Gonzalez Palma’s photo collages capture astrophysical material as evidence of a universal presence; and Khandavilli’s cast figures reenvision the Hindu pantheon as a series of modern idols, preening in designer heels.
Addressing the secret languages pulsing beneath officially-sanctioned accounts of history and religion, Phoenix-based artist Angela Ellsworth interprets the spiritualism of mid-Century healers and artists Emma Kunz and Hilma af Klint as a pivotal moment in the hidden history of female spirituality–one that Ellsworth herself accesses through the practices of her maternal Mormon ancestry. A performance artist whose processes often produce mysterious and exquisite objects, the physical self is one of Ellsworth’s primary aesthetic concerns. Her recent series, Holding Pattern, includes a series of “Pantaloncini,” patterned undergarments comprised of pearl-tipped hat pins, their iridescent exterior surfaces contrasting chillingly with the forest of needlepoints within.
The complex and profoundly compelling patterns created with contrasting pin-tips are derived from the “sacred geometry” of Emma Kunz. Generated in the service of healing and spiritual divining, Kunz’s abstract, mathematically intense drawings prefigured the work of the male Abstract Expressionists who later were recognized for innovating such forms. Says Ellsworth:
“Emma Kunz and Hilma af Klint were two artists living in the first half of the 1900’s, largely unknown and producing radical work for their time. The invisibility of these artists (as well as plenty other female artists through art history) speaks to / parallels the invisibility of plural wives in early Mormonism and their connection to mysticism.”
Ellsworth’s works merge these two systems of secret languages in intriguing performances and installations, delving into an unspoken realm of gestural language, psychic connection, and sensuous geometry.
Guatemalan artist Luis Gonzalez Palma has always used photography as a medium through which essential materials may travel; a transmission of soul rather than specific imagery. For Gonzalez Palma these works are part of “the search for a reality related to the void and the sacred space…uncertain and loaded with a mysterious geography.” In his series Koan, Gonzalez Palma works from the first astrophysical images recorded in Argentina: interplanetary bodies, spectral lines, and microscopic stellar particles derived from the archives of the Astronomical Observatory of Córdoba, Argentina.
Gonzalez Palma has extrapolated from his originating images a personal geometry, “a space that is inhabited by conscience.” With these photographic images on onion paper, folded and shaped into a query about the nature of existence, Gonzalez Palma continues to innovate photography as a spiritual medium. His works in Koan: El Sol, through archival material and astrophysical formulae, present a photographic iteration of “the pure and abstract sensation that comes from the Universe.”
In Selfie Queens, Bangalore-based sculptor Siri Devi Khandavilli employs traditional Indian modeling and metal-casting methods to create a series of contemporary idols worshipping at the altars of self, social media, and consumerism. Voguing coquettishly for their camera-phones, Khandavilli’s ornate goddess figures look just like traditional Hindu temple idols. On closer inspection, one finds these burnished deities fully outfitted with trappings of the pop culture consumer: designer heels, tight jeans, and an intense, intimate connection between face and phone. These queens are glamorous, irreverent, and unblinking, attached to a history of stories and spirituality and a present moment of self-regard and consumption-as-beauty.
Khandavilli is fascinated rather than judgemental; in fact, she sees in the rise of the selfie a poignant search for meaning.
Selfie photos, remarks Khandavilli, are “in a way, strangely beautiful – people seen as they see themselves or as they want to be seen. This self-consciousness, this vulnerability, talks about the human need for love and approval…a desire to live a life worthy of documentation.”
The charming, unsettling vision of stylized religious iconography taking form in a modern-day social-media setting reveals an essential aspect of Khandavilli’s conceptual concern: the myriad expressions of human desire. In one way or another, we are all functionaries of this worldly system of yearning and reward, posing and clicking as though our existences depended on it. Says Khandavilli, “Selfies are a kind of mirror-gazing without a mirror. Maybe we all are trying to recognize ourselves.”
In spare and incisive conceptual works, Reynier Leyva Novo bears witness to the varied iterations of the Cuban revolutionary social project. Scouring administrative and bureaucratic data/ephemera from his country’s history, Novo reformulates mundane details of grammar and form into idiosyncratic minimalist works.
La extension de las palabras (The Extension of Words), a recent series, consists of collaged words from Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban government. Diminutive and unassuming newspaper clippings of a single, loaded word anchors each composition. The words are surrounded or in some cases eclipsed by a geometric umbra of gold graphite lines. Novo’s approach is unsentimental and precise, and results in works that both challenge epochal historico-political platitudes and invite discovery of alternate means of interpretation.
In my opinion, it is interesting how, ultimately, everything that happened is contemplable through these little concentrations of words, and measurable by given amounts of ink. –Reynier Leyva Novo
The opening reception will be held on Saturday, January 13, 2018 from 7:00 – 9:00pm
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Xawery Wolski / Alan Bur Johnson
November 3, 2017 – January 6, 2018
Opening Reception with the Artists
Friday, November 3, 2017
7:00 – 9:00pm
The works of Mexico-based artist Xawery Wolski and Arizona-based installation artist Alan Bur Johnson draw poetry from the atmosphere in works that are meditative and exacting. Using familiar forms and materials that interact with the ambient qualities of their surroundings, Wolski and Johnson delineate ethereal figures in space and time that bear the weight of human memory. New works by both artists are featured in Lisa Sette Gallery’s fall exhibit.
Xawery Wolski’s solemn, startling works begin with elemental forms and materials: bones and terra cotta beads are woven into a fabric from which archetypal garments, or vestidos, are composed. Wolski, a resident of Mexico City who was born and raised in Poland, has always been entranced by the idea of clothing and adornment: “that second skin that one chooses for oneself in order to cover, to protect, to defend, to adorn.” In a remarkable recent piece, Wolski has strung thousands of handmade, bone-shaped terracotta beads to form an immense, pale cape, a winged form that can be perceived as both a ritual garment and a living entity, presiding in the ambient air currents. Wolski’s vestidos are exhibited seemingly suspended in midair; substantial and elongated, a history of human intention is tangible in each beaded vestido’s cascading multitudes. “Meditation…is the key to this work: deliberate, patient repetitive movements that start with “nothing” and pursue toward infinity.”
In a related body of work, Wolski arranges glistening, highly-glazed clay components resembling liquid droplets in precise, jewel-like formations against the wall. Wolski travels widely in the Americas and obtains a clay sample from wherever he goes: “the clay comes from the earth, and the earth is the material of origin: the essence of the place where we come from and where we end.” Reflective and highly responsive to light, these works glimmer and morph in response to the changing light and human presence in the gallery, speaking an ancient and atmospheric language that extends beyond our brief moments of perception.
This artwork… attempts to link the esthetic appeal of the object with the context of its material origin: it speaks of the presence of a human figure as well as of its absence. -Xawery Wolski
Alan Bur Johnson seems to exist in symbiosis with the high-desert environment surrounding his Arizona studio, an intimate acolyte of the structures of flight and the cellular architecture of our shared biology. Johnson’s past installation works have directed scientific and exacting processes of observation and documentation toward the murmur and flutter of insect swarms and the formations of basic cellular bodies. In his new series, Push the Sky (one rendering shown above), which debuts at Lisa Sette Gallery this fall, Johnson adds human engineering structures to his vast vocabulary of biological flight:
“This body of work is inspired by a collaboration I wanted to pursue with my father, but was unable to realize during his lifetime. He was fascinated with ﬂight and wings — a shared interest that I only fully realized in recent years. An architect and artist, he became an exceptionally skilled builder of model airplanes… Working in my studio, I suspend the skeletal frameworks he built and draw the long shadows that are cast upon the wall, then redraw and reduce the forms. I also project the insect wings I have photographed.”
Johnson records the projected silhouettes of both human aircraft and insect anatomies, then assembles the resulting pieces into large, powder-coated steel structures as delicate as lacewing, and that, when installed, project their own shadow chronology in the changing light.
From a fragmentary epiphany distilled in the desert air, Johnson’s works speak to the variance and convergence of biological systems and human endeavor. Systems of memory and flight combine to give shape to a shared consciousness, a knowledge of our place in the world that is embodied by the structures we ourselves are in the constant process of creating and disassembling. Johnson’s particular scientific and poetic ingenuity is in expressing the volume of absence in these forms, and the mysterious, ever-present existence of emptiness and release within our busy moving parts. Push the Sky captures the shadow-impression of the fluttering and darting wing, at the moment it comes to rest.
This work is as much about the negative space as it is about the physical forms. Forms, voids, and shadows carry an equal volume. They address both what is present and what is absent, and speak directly to the presence of my father. -Alan Bur Johnson
An opening reception with the Artists will be held on Friday, November 3, 2017 from 7:00 – 9:00pm
Kahn + Selesnick / Rachel Bess
September 5 – October 28, 2017
Opening reception with the artists
Saturday, September 9, 2017, from 7:00 – 9:00pm
Lisa Sette Gallery’s fall exhibit marks the year’s diurnal progression toward a darker season with Rachel Bess’ oil portraits and the photo-collage constructions of collaborators Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick. Bess and Kahn/Selesnick revel in historical and retrofuturist aesthetics of the occult, marking resonances with our present moment of ecological and moral insecurity. In disparate media, these works demonstrate the irresistible intrigue of the fantastic and unknown in times of cultural upheaval.
Kahn/Selesnick’s meticulous photo-collages function as immersive cosmic systems from which the viewer may divine their own meaning or narrative based on a constellation of esoteric details. Each image catches an enticing fancy, mid-flight. Their series, Madame Lulu’s Book of Fate, follows the continuing adventures of the Truppe Fledermaus, a motley, bat-masked crew that has featured in the duo’s recent works. Kahn/Selesnick explain Truppe Fledermaus as “A cabaret troupe of anxious mummers and would-be mystics who catalogue their absurdist attempts to augur a future that seems increasingly in peril due to environmental pressures and global turmoil.”
Writing in the New York Times, Vicki Goldberg described the adventures of Truppe Fledermaus as “apocalypse soon, delight in the meantime.”
For while a shining margin of rising floodwaters encircle many scenes of the Truppe, still its members seem to take pleasure where they can, traipsing in fancy-dress across wasted, watery, or overgrown landscapes, encountering last-of-their species creatures and attempting feats of technological transcendence with charming analogue contraptions.
Performing the roles of commedia del’arte and adhering to the democratizing customs of carnival, the costuming and elaborate backgrounds of Truppe Fledermaus explicitly recall 18th-century France; remarks Richard Selesnick:
“We see a correlation between that time period and our own, with the world teetering between enlightenment and violence. We often find it helpful to view our own anxieties through the lens of history in this way.”
Fortunetelling may also offer comfort in times of civilizational confusion, thus Madame Lulu’s Book of Fate comprises a deck of tarot cards and a bocca della veritá—a mouth of truth hearkening to the original Roman artifact. Madame Lulu’s visions are caught within a circular frame, as though through the lense of a sightglass, all the better to catch a glimpse of a possible future, or a substitute past, that somehow makes sense of the absurdity of the present moment.
A notion of existence outside the limits of time is also central to the eerie portraits of Rachel Bess. Bess remarks:
“I nearly always try to have my figures in a time that is not specific…and extends the possibility that [each portrait] may be set in the future, or I suppose an alternate ‘futurepast’.”
In Bess’ moody and precise oil-on-panel portraits this embodied “futurepast” seems to have sprung from our contemporary world, still grasping enchanted artifacts and treasures from beyond history. Amulets and magical talismans, poison bottles and turn-of-the-century cabaret costumes adorn the central figures of the portraits, each depicted in a moment of atmospheric hesitation, ensconced in the infinite cosmic darkness of myth or dreams.
The portraits’ subjects are young and attractive, with unconventional faces and bodies; their dreamy expressions and enigmatic background adds to their fascination. The luminous delineation of these figures in the shadows becomes an enchantment that commands further consideration. As viewers of both Bess’ and Kahn/Selesnick’s works, we are compelled to follow into the unknown realms they direct us toward. These are places of darkness but also beauty and seductive whimsy. And such strange loveliness begs the question: what do we have to lose?
The opening reception with the artists will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2017 from 7:00 – 9:00pm
David Kroll / Jessica Joslin
May 2 – August 26, 2017
Saturday, May 6, 2017, from 7:00 – 9:00pm
The works of David Kroll and Jessica Joslin are decidedly different; Kroll’s delicate oil paintings appear at first reminiscent of the still-lifes of the Dutch Golden Age, while Joslin’s oeuvre comprises a menagerie of bone-and-bauble creatures, unheard-of biological specimens pieced together with a metalsmith’s precision. Yet the artists share a detailed knowledge of mysterious, timeless inner worlds, and both dive deep in order to bring forth scenes and creatures from their enchanted subconscious.
David Kroll’s still lifes are continually unfolding mysteries, portrayed with a sure and immaculate compositional hand. Kroll’s deft touch as a realist belies his works’ constant internal magic: in each still life there is an otherworldly intervention or compositional sleight of hand; a landscape echoing from background to vase, a fluttering of ethereal wings in the darkness that indicates the ceaseless motion of the living world.
“I paint personal refuges and interior landscapes… I try to create a connection – however fleeting – between the viewer and the power of landscape, the web of life, the idea of nature itself.”
– David Kroll
The natural world in Kroll’s works is frequently mediated through man-made objects or references–vessels, globes, and memento mori, portrayed with the same lush elegance as the natural environment surrounding them. Yet Kroll’s paintings recall the experience of meditating for a moment on a purely natural setting and witnessing as a broad landscape sharpens into a series of dramas and details, as the profound multitude and variety of the natural world reveals itself to us, and life goes about its ceaseless project.
In the formative years of her childhood, the sculptor Jessica Joslin could only see the details of the natural world in one of the many science museums in her hometown of Boston. Joslin explains that she was too nearsighted to glimpse natural life in any detail in the wider world, but within the vitrine of museum glass she could study the miraculous detailed anatomy of taxidermy specimens.
“At the natural history museums at Harvard, with their Victorian-era passion for collecting and labeling, I discovered the animal kingdom…magnificent, inscrutable, magical and…dead. The taxidermy animals that I saw were far more fascinating than any animals that I could see in ‘real life.’ ”
– Jessica Joslin
Joslin’s extreme nearsightedness was eventually discovered and corrected, but her fascination with the enigmatic mechanics of natural biology continues, in a zoological garden filled with odd and magical creatures of her own creation. Holding endearing and lifelike poses, Joslin’s strange pets and specimens are made of skeleton parts and antiquated fixtures, sweet baubles and disconcerting anatomies, recalling a reliquary of turn-of-the century circus attractions.
Remarkably, Joslin uses no soldering or welding in the creation of these works; mechanical fixtures of various kids are their uniting and animating force. Brass, steel, bone, glass and leather combine to give character and an entreating kind of charm to each piece, a coy invitation to look very, very closely. Though domesticated, each creature retains the wild and slightly fearsome aspect of one who cannot be categorized in any earthly taxonomy.
The opening reception will be held on Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 7:00 – 9:00pm
Charlotte Potter at The Photography Show Presented by AIPAD
Charlotte Potter at The Photography Show Presented by AIPAD
The Photography Show Presented by AIPAD
Pier 94, New York City
March 30 – April 2, 2017
March 29: Vernissage
Purchase Tickets HERE
CAPTURING LIGHT: A HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHERS and CAMEOGRAPHIC
The portrait as we know it is an image projected through glass. Human visages pass through a glass lens in the photographic act, then go forth again through glass, often as a miniature profile picture illuminated on the screen of a digital device. These small, glowing identities are the obvious descendant of an ancient form of personal memento carved in glass or shell—the cameo. In Capturing Light: A History of Photographers and Cameographic, Charlotte Potter makes explicit the inextricable connections between glass and photography, as well as the applications of these media toward an essential form of memory: the portrait.
Potter, a glass artist whose work frequently explores the performative and conceptual implications of her material, has addressed the connections between glass, photography, and image presentation. Her previous installation works featured exploding patterns of cameo lockets that documented the social media profile as an expression of personal identity. Moving toward an investigation of photographic image-making itself, Capturing Light: A History of Photographers presents one hundred and one influential photographers in a chronological timeline of multicolored cameo portraits. The resulting installation is an enchanting study of the history of photography, as artists who shaped the medium across two centuries assemble in a gathering of gemlike images, specific delicate parts that make up a variegated, voluminous whole.
Quintessential first image makers Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and Louis Daguerre initiate the horizontal diagram; from there, Capturing Light pulses toward the present moment in photography with color-coded portraits that reference each photographer’s subject matter. The colors represent informatic sets and subsets: red=person; magenta=person/abstract; blue=abstract/thing; cyan=abstract/place; green=place; yellow=people/place; black=innovators and inventors. Capturing Light presents a lyrical and aesthetically complex map of the photographers whose work has shaped our contemporary understanding of the visual world.
In the process of drafting Capturing Light’s composition, Potter came to a particular appreciation of the interactions between historical circumstances and creative development, from the chemical experiments of the 1830’s to the present moment of digital supremacy and selfies.
“I wanted to figure out a taxonomy to visually quantify these photographers,” remarks Potter, “And what I discovered was that there are these wonderful subsections: Man Ray is somewhere in between Person and Thing. Weston lives there too. In between People and Place we have Dorothea Lange, Berenice Abbott, Gordon Parks.” –Charlotte Potter
Cameographic, an installation work accompanying Capturing Light, is informed by basic photographic action involving chamber, glass, and light, and the range of early developing processes. Potter has stated: “My work begins with a historical model. I am constantly looking for historical references, relevance, and reasoning for using this material.” A grouping of larger oval portraits of influential photographers, Cameographic is presented in black and white and framed in silver and tin, referencing early photographic methodologies. While Capturing Light follows a complex schema, the simpler layout of Cameographic is a more elemental homage, an engagement with the essential processes and materials by which nearly two hundred years of photographers have experimented with images of reality, following the work of engraver and inventor of the photograph, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce.
Sourced from the Internet, applied to glass treated with digitally-developed decals, then hand-carved using traditional engraving tools, the cameos in Capturing Light and Cameographic are engaging, paradoxical objects whose existence owes to both ancient and contemporary technologies and desires. Potter’s works put human faces to the iconic moments of photography’s history—the historical camera is reversed. And the artist’s detailed attention to the processes, materials, and history of photography exposes an interdependent system: glass and light and the human face are revealed as integral intermediary forms, the pervasive materials through which we remember one another.
List of Photographers in Capturing Light: A History of Photographers:
CYAN = abstract/place
MAGENTA = person/abstract
Lartigue, Jacques Henri
Lee, Nikki S
Palma, Luis Gonzalez
Taylor Wood, Sam
Thomas, Hank Willis
Witkin, Joel Peter
YELLOW = people/place
Bravo, Lola Alvarez
Weegee, Arthur Fellig
BLACK = innovator/inventor
Daguerre, Louis Jacques
Lumière, Auguste & Louis
Niepce, Joseph Nicephore
Peach Robinson, Henry
Talbot, Wiliam Henry Fox
RED = person
Cameron, Julia Margaret
Curtis, Edward S.
Van Der Zee, James
Weems, Carrie Mae
GREEN = place
Emerson, Peter Henry
BLUE = abstract/thing
Bentley, Wilson A.
Tell Me Why, Tell Me Why, Tell Me Why (Why Can’t We Live Together?)
Tell Me Why, Tell Me Why, Tell Me Why (Why Can’t We Live Together?)
March 4 – April 29, 2017
Saturday, March 11th from 12:00 – 5:00pm
Saturday, March 11th
7:00 – 9:00pm
What do we do when the news makes us cry?
Art remains a source of solace, explanation, and surprise. In Tell Me Why, a diverse range of contemporary artists consider our present moment of conflict, addressing narratives of difference and resentment as well as hope and beauty. The show’s title is a lyric from the 1972 Timmy Thomas recording “Why Can’t We Live Together?” which Lisa Sette calls “a beautiful lament of a song.” The song’s central question resonates throughout the show, with responses in the form of conceptually rigorous work from artists including: Enrique Chagoya, Sonya Clark, Jamal Cyrus, Binh Danh, Claudio Dicochea, Angela Ellsworth, Maximo Gonzalez, Siri Devi Khandavilli, Mark Klett, Carrie Marill, Luis Molina-Pantin, Ann Morton, Reynier Leyva Novo, Kambui Olujimi, and Charlotte Potter.
From the rollicking paintings of Claudio Dicochea, which reimagine the Colonial-era ethnographic paintings of Central and South America as modern-day pop culture operas, to Angela Ellsworth’s glistening, pearl-tipped explorations of Mormonism and feminine sexuality, the artists of Tell Me Why are connected by their fearless approach to experimentation, beauty, and political engagement, and their insistence on artwork as a means of cathartic reconciliation.
“Everyone is born somewhere. I’m not so interested in the idea of a shared origin, I’m interested in the idea of a shared destination.” -Claudio Dicochea
In a state of anxiety over our country’s state of affairs, painter and printmaker Enrique Chagoya took up transcendental meditation; his practice gave a new direction to his Illegal Alien’s Guide series: works that take their multivalent pictorial form from the pre-Columbian codex. The codices, remarks Chagoya, contain a series of “self-portraits as ethnic stereotypes from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America among others…addressing issues of xenophobia, gender, and racism, in a style that I call ‘reverse modernism.’” His work is a “conceptual fusion of opposite cultural realities that I have experienced in my lifetime.” This approach informs much of the work in Tell Me Why, as artists explore identities and cultures in conflict.
Artist Sonya Clark exhibits Unraveled Persistence, a Confederate flag meticulously deconstructed, yet even in its unraveled state projecting our nation’s most powerful symbol of divisiveness. And in a literal perspective-switch, Charlotte Potter’s Lenticular America consists of hand-engraved portraits on glass, spliced together and mounted using lenticular technology, so that, says Potter, “when viewing the work straight on the portraits… are only revealed by physically changing perspective.” Moving around the piece, the viewer glimpses the ghostly visage of Michael Brown, a young man killed in Ferguson, MO, as it shifts to a depiction of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot him.
In Kambui Olujimi’s newest series “Killing Time”, an installation of adorned handcuffs act as lyrical drawings to highlight the plight of mass systemic incarceration and the ties between those caught within a cycle they cannot escape.
Jamal Cyrus’ Kennedy King Kennedy triptych features excerpts from the Chicago Daily Defender newspaper’s reports on the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert F. Kennedy. Laser-cut into Egyptian papyrus, one of the earliest known writing materials, Cyrus lends historical weight to the seemingly disposable news cycle we experience on a daily basis.
Maximo Gonzalez’ “Arqueologia de la prensa / Archaeology of the press”, evokes the contemporary “multiplicity of repetition” idea on which today’s tendentious news culture is built. The repeating squares are created from the white borders of out of circulation currency and give the impression of a group of people, holding banners in demonstration and repetition. The empty banners can be filled with all the different fears, injustices, and claims that every group, minority or majority, in any country of the world are screaming out.
Bangalore-based artist Siri Devi Khandavilli mimics traditional Hindu temple figurines in her series of cast bronze sculptures. Khandavilli remarks, “These works are about religions and their relationship with violence and need for control and power, and human brutality disguised in the name of religious duties.” The series shows the incarnations of Vishnu, each brandishing a different weapon.
Cuban artist Reynier Leyva Novo uses reappropriation in his series “Margin Notes”. Each day he reads the highly censored Cuban “Granma” newspaper and clips figures or texts of interest and then alters the original meaning by rearranging the clippings to create unprecedented images of strong political commentary, interspersed with irony, poetry, and humor.
Mark Klett’s Fence separating the US/Mexico border south of the Gila Mountains, May 2015 captures the existential absurdity of political effort toward division: a lone steel wall crosses a gully while around it stretches the boundless, bare, and politically indifferent geography of the desert.
Meanwhile, across the border, Venezuelan artist Luis Molina-Pantin’s Untitled (Doorbells from Mexico) / Sin título (Timbres de México) series explores his droll observations of fear and personalized security varying from house to house.
A close examination of our human condition and current political situation may be dispiriting, but for some of the artists of Tell Me Why it serves as an opportunity for deeper aesthetic engagement. Carrie Marill says of her immaculately patterned acrylic on linen canvases, “My work is about symmetry and balance and pattern, and when I reflect on that familiar visual language in terms of questioning our society, I’m often lead back to meditation in order to calm my overthinking mind…”
Binh Danh, works with experimental photographic processes to capture “mortality, memory, history, landscape, justice, evidence, and spirituality.” Danh’s luminous daguerreotypes become mirror-like, an occasion for reflection and contemplation. “The daguerreotypes allow viewers to see themselves in the Buddha and for us to see ourselves awaken,” says Danh.
In an essential way, Tell Me Why is a united act, presenting contemporary work by artists from Bangalore to Mexico; the borderlands of the Southwest to California’s immigrant shores. While valuing conceptual exploration over a specific or exacting agenda, the artists of Tell Me Why converge in the shared practice of working to make sense of our common humanity.
“All we want is some peace in this world” -Timmy Thomas
Luis Gonzalez Palma / Carrie Marill
January 10 – February 25, 2017
Saturday, January 14, 2017, from 7:00 – 9:00pm
Lisa Sette Gallery is pleased to present new works by contemporary Guatemalan artist Luis González Palma, whose altered photographs are entrancing forays into the diverse intellectual histories of Latin America. A widely recognized artist on the global stage, González Palma has exhibited with Lisa Sette Gallery for over 20 years, and his work exemplifies the timely international aesthetic the gallery is known for.
In the works comprising Luis González Palma’s Möbius series, frank and emotional photographic portraits of indigenous Guatemalans are presented at close range, each filling the frame with visages, and featuring a symbolic graphical overlay. Each anonymous face presented in this series is compelling in its own right—González Palma describes the portraits as “intimate, introspective, and conscious of their emptiness before the world” —and the same portraits are often repeated in the Möbius series, each altered by a different formulation of bisecting geometric lines and shapes. An encounter between two streams of 20th Century Latin American thought—the rationalism of the Concretist movement and the romance of Magical Realism—is the subject of this series, as González Palma proposes “to generate a symbolic reconciliation between these two artistic currents, activating tensions and creating relationships between two ways of representing reality from diametrically opposed perspectives.”
“The important thing is establishing the relationship between the emotional, figurative portraiture and the abstracted, geometric imagery. These two systems represent our craving to understand the mystery of life from different perspectives.”
– Luis González Palma
While González Palma’s intellectual vision speaks to a complex and evolving interplay of artistic works and historical circumstances in Latin America, the Möbius series stands alone as a profoundly moving collection of images that can be experienced without historical or geographical reference points. The pieces themselves, along with González Palma’s inquisitive willingness to alter the repeating portraits in order to bring forth a new imagery within each frame, are enough to keep the viewer within this body of work’s intimate, infinite loop.
Carrie Marill’s newest series, Unbalanced, was created in response to Luis Gonzalez Palma’s Möbius works. Marill chose crystal structures and geometric forms to explore the challenges of machine-made vs. hand-hewn. Marill, like Palma, attempts to bridge the gap between the natural and the technological, the emotional and the rational.
“In this series I am playing with these patterns and restricting my palette to let the hand and digital world compete in an aesthetic tease of balance and imbalance.”
– Carrie Marill
The opening reception will be held on Saturday, January 14, 2017 from 7:00 – 9:00pm
Mayme Kratz / Marie Navarre / Hunt Rettig
November 5, 2016 – January 7, 2017
Opening Reception with Mayme Kratz
Saturday, November 5th
7:00 – 9:00pm
For over thirty years Lisa Sette Gallery has served as a hub of the Phoenix contemporary art scene. Sun-sliced and spare, in a building designed by the Arizona modernist architect Al Beadle, the gallery boasts a roster of widely recognized international artists, including several Arizona artists whose works and lives represent the unique aesthetic circumstances of the urban desert. This November Lisa Sette Gallery will exhibit new works by Mayme Kratz and Marie Navarre, Arizona artists working in diverse media who address nature, longing and beauty, and who speak unflinchingly of the central role of mortality and loss in our collective experience.
Mayme Kratz embeds biological detritus in thick, luminous layers of polymer resin. Her initial process is that of a naturalist; rambling the landscapes of the Southwest, collecting specimens from the desert floor, tracking rates of decomposition and dehydration among the many collections in her Phoenix studio. Then, working with viscous and chemically caustic material, Kratz expertly embeds her samples in wall-hung works and sculptural forms, elevating the landscape’s diminutive biological structures to the function of spiritual reliquary.
“The foundation of my creative process never changes. My work celebrates the endless cycles of change and rebirth in nature. My walks in the wilderness reveal fragile ecosystems, strange beauty – insights in detritus. Most of the time I focus on beauty, sometimes on memory, and recently on longing – for that which has gone missing – or what I feel, but cannot see.”
In recent works Kratz is concerned with the notion of “absences or disappearances” that may be sensed both materially, in our changing world ecosystem, and within our own transient human life cycles. Inspired by a quote from writer Tim Walsh, “Many things are known indirectly through what they leave behind, by their lingering effects on whatever remains in their absence,” Kratz’s attention has turned to the empty places in her works; how they may delineate forms in and of themselves, and tell stories of longing or memory.
November 5, 2016 – January 7, 2017
Opening Reception with Marie Navarre
Saturday, November 5th
7:00 – 9:00pm
The photographic constructions of Marie Navarre also examine the paradox of absence and presence, loss and recovery, and the work of building a world inclusive of both experiences. Printed on handmade digital vellums and opaline photographic overlays, with occasional collage-like interventions, Navarre’s images often depict the vast expanses of sky and horizon framing a smattering of natural features, such as a conflagration of spare branches, or a terse flock of migrating birds. Her images convey the disorienting and dreamlike experience of gazing just above the earth’s horizon, catching mainly sky.
Speaking to her recent series, Navarre states, “This work is informed by loss and longing. These feelings began to be guided by a tenuous sense of wholeness.”
Navarre’s work to be debuted at Lisa Sette Gallery includes photographs shot in Japan, in an unusual flurry of image-making. Navarre reports that when she returned from the trip and began the task of sorting through her almost 500 images, she found sets that seemed to belong together, such as two nearly-book-matched angles of a plum tree, pictured in an atmospheric and spare work titled season of longing:
“I don’t remember taking pictures of both sides of the umeboshi tree or making the decision to photograph one side and then the other. There’s this sense of fracturing or shattering that has been with me for a couple of years…I was not thinking about that or the split pictures while I was photographing, but when I got back and looked at the images, they started to gravitate toward each other, and that had a resonance for me.”
In coupling these images, Navarre creates a tableau in which a vital sliver of information is absent; the images do not match up perfectly in a calm panorama, but rather join together two distinct angles of a similar vision, as if in acknowledgement that no single moment or expectation may encompass an entire truth. There is an enigmatic and profound power in addressing the fracture:
“What has emerged as I look at the work, and in the process of making it, is a larger sense of wholeness that is made more whole by loss.”
November 5, 2016 – January 7, 2017
Saturday, November 5th
7:00 – 9:00pm
Hunt Rettig’s three-dimensional, mixed media assemblages are startlingly unique. He uses materials such as polyester films and synthetic rubber to create works that feature looping, circular shapes and biomorphic forms, showcasing his sensibility for the organic, the cellular, and the sensual shapes of our natural world.
“Within my terrain I see cross sections of cross sections, impossible confluences, unnavigable borders, unrestricted constriction and breath-like expansion. Living forms appear invisibly visible, out of reach, out of context and infinitely reproducing. Combined, unnaturally natural landscapes manifest themselves. Settled or unsettled? The process is a slow unfurling, like a fern.”