05.05.12 - SURFACE TENSION – Curated by Ariel Shanberg and Akemi Hiatt

On view: May 5 – June 24, 2012
Opening reception
: May 5, from 5-7pm
Gallery hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 12-5pm and by appointment

The Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) is pleased to announce Surface Tension, its Spring 2012 exhibition. Curated by CPW staff members Ariel Shanberg and Akemi HiattSurface Tension features photo-based works by 11 artists who establish new languages within photography wherein our notions of the “photographic” are challenged and expanded.

On view from May 5 – June 24, Surface Tension highlights imagery that defies the illusionary connotations of photography, choosing rather to instigate tension whether physical or psychological upon the surface of the photograph.The artists featured subvert conventional expectations of the medium via gestures of abstraction, deconstruction, and manipulation of the image by the artists’ hand. In their hands, the print – as a three dimensional object – is as much at play as their methodology which gives form to the transmutable nature of photography.

Marisa Baumgarter (NYC) digitally manipulates and partially erases elements from photographs she has taken of interior and exterior spaces. The final work, which will be presented as a site-specific vinyl wall installation in CPW’s galleries, uses layers and form to break down notions of perception.

Visiting lakes and reservoirs across the western United States, Matthew Brandt (Los Angeles, CA) creates color photographs that are then soaked in the specific lake or reservoir water that they represent. Days, weeks, and even months of submersion impact the print with wild color shifts and areas of blank space.

Christopher Colville’s (Phoenix, AZ) images are made by igniting gunpowder on the surface of silver gelatin paper. The resulting explosion causes light and energy to abrade and expose the photograph in a camera-less process which harkens back to the beginnings of photography.

Megan Flaherty (New City, NY) documents the shared university work surfaces marked by students training to be artists, some of which have been in use for decades. Shot on a flat plane with no horizon, pen marks, paint splatters, stencils and gouges transform into remnants of the tension and output of the creative process.

Influenced by the proliferation of new media and an increasing awareness of our own identites, Joseph Heidecker (NYC) explores the constructed sense of self with hand-manipulated found photographs. In stitching “masks” with beads and string, he reveals or conceals certain elements of the figure within the frame.

Mark Lyon’s (Marlboro, NY) Landscapes for the People series catalogues the use of sublime landscape photography as wallpaper in clinical environments, representing a sustained investigation into nature and artifice through the process of re-photographing photographs.

Evincing a fascination with the science of sight, Aspen Mays (Los Angeles, CA) uses a hole punch to physically remove each star from an image of the night sky. The work calls into question the expectation of photography as a documentary medium, as the constellations serve as a record of their own removal.

Klea McKenna (San Francisco, CA) folded 57 paper airplanes made from light-sensitive chromogenic paper and exposed them to the sun for a period of 10 hours near a WWII anti-aircraft lookout. An indelible record of that moment, the final installation alludes to the triangular form of a fighter jet in deep black, fiery red and yellow.

A former volunteer conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Alison Rossiter (NYC) collects expired, vintage photo paper dating as early as the 1900s. She pours developer directly on the surface of the paper, creating abstract, fluid forms which reintroduce unpredictability into a process that is now commonly digitized.

Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s (NYC) process involves constant printing, editing, re-appropriation and re-creation of portraits and still lifes he has taken. In using photography as a tool to collect images and to explore the relationship to and among art objects, he has created an installation in CPW’s space which acts as a collapsed document of time, space, subject, and artistic process.

With an eye for saturated color and luminosity, Brea Souders (NYC) arranges materials like mirrors, fabric, and magazine cut-outs to design images that are visually and psychologically compelling. Surreal and disorienting, she experiments with abstraction and flatness of the medium, contesting the expectations of the viewer.

Not unlike the revolution that Painting experienced over a century ago, as various techniques and processes have been freed within Photography over the years from the responsibility of “depicting images” and “telling stories”, photographers are more and more exploring the ontology of various image-making processes. Through the artists in Surface Tension, we are witness to the establishment of new languages that couldn’t have been imagined prior to the advent of Digital Photography, and which has allowed for a renewed investigation of aesthetic diction throughout the medium.

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