Curated by Elizabeth Saperstein
Exhibition: March 7 – April 28, 2012
Opening Reception: Wednesday, March 7, 6-8pm
Baxter St at CCNY is pleased to present Horizon Variations, an exhibition of conceptual photographs inspired by the impact of decay, disaster and discovery on the natural environment. Working at the intersection of sculpture and photography, the artists use photography as a way to explore the philosophical side of occurrences in nature, such as the force of a hurricane, the extinction of a species, or the weathering of rock formations over time. By building scenarios from scratch, studying them, and photographing the results, the artists go beyond traditional landscape photography. Contemporary compositional methods such as sampling, altering and serial numbering are used in combination with commonplace materials. The pristine and eerily calm digital photographs – black and white, monochromatic, and/or color-blocked – are achieved through a variety of techniques.
The photographs in Horizon Variations express the artists’ ideas about the intangibleness of place or site, be it architectural or geological structures, ethereal views, or wildlife. In the spirit of the performance and earthwork artists of the late 1960s and early 1970s, who used photography in an entirely new documentary capacity, these artists also use photography as a way to create a dialogue between the natural environment and its representation. To paraphrase Robert Smithson, artists seek the fictions that reality will sooner or later imitate. Not to be seen simply as pictures of rocks or shipping containers, or of the ocean or migrating birds, these photographs serve as a visual metaphor for the relationship between our perception of the world and the world with which we interact.
The photographs in Heather Rasmussen’s DestructConstruct series are based on found photographs of shipping container accidents downloaded from the Internet. Each found image is used as a model for a sculpture that is constructed for the production of the photograph. The sculpture then exists as a photographic work, which directly relates to the original photograph, including the name, place, and date the accident happened.
Esther Choi explores the concepts of entropy, utopia, and failure in her New Brutalism series. Using imperfectly rendered crystals grown from laboratory kits, the results of these experiments are spontaneously placed in order to form impermanent, delicately arranged sculptures that allude to changing attributes of architectural constructions and landforms. The results of these temporary experiments are photographed.
Cecilia Schmidt’s Migrations photographs explore the influence of digital technology more directly on the way nature is represented in the media. Using rapid imagery from televised nature shows, the images are manipulated to heighten their digital origins. Scattered, twittering wings and beaks of birds in flight feel like extensions of our own nervous system.
Inga Dorosz’s photographs of tin foil consist of tableaus made out of common materials and framed in a way that references the environment on a vast scale – the ocean, lunar landscapes – as well as literary and filmic interpretations of “earthly investigations into difficult-to-reach territories.”
Guest curator Elizabeth Saperstein is an independent writer, researcher, and curator. Since 2004, she has organized exhibitions for Pelham Art Center in Westchester County, and serves as a juror for the Alexander Rutsch Award and Exhibition in Painting, a national competition. She held the positions of Senior Lecturer and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Multimedia at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and has authored exhibition catalogs for Akira Ikeda Gallery; Lennon, Weinberg Inc.; Leo Koenig Inc., and others. Professional experience includes positions as Communications Director at Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts and Program Manager at the Charles Mingus Jazz Workshop.