photo-eye Gallery Gallery Favorites Interview with Christopher Colville By Alexandra JoChristopher Colville speaks with Gallery Assistant Alexandra Jo about his process and inspiration behind his unique photographic works in Flux.
by Alexandra Jo
Christopher Colville: FLUX installed at photo-eye Gallery, Santa Fe, NM. On view through Saturday, June 22, 2019.
It’s always compelling to engage with art that braids visual pleasure and conceptual expansion together. As someone who has been through art school, it’s especially exciting to come across work that truly presents itself as an unexpected mystery, an open question, in both meaning and how the work was created. For me, that’s exactly what Christopher Colville’s work does. His atmospheric, yet corporeal gunpowder-generated silver gelatin photographic images use light to point to darkness, examine landscape and objecthood through the abstract, confounding viewers about how a photograph could be made without a camera. I had the pleasure of meeting Christopher at the opening of Flux, his solo exhibition currently on view at photo-eye Gallery, and spoke with him about his process, sources of inspiration, and cogitation behind his work in the show. He elaborates on these topics in our interview below:
Alexandra Jo: In one of your statements you mention that this method of working with gunpowder came out of a collaborative project with a poet, but its invention has deeper roots in your childhood: lighting fireworks and shooting empty shotgun shells with your father, and later, collecting small amounts of gunpowder from your father’s shotgun shells with your friends to experiment with making small sparks, smoke, and explosions. How important was that return to the curiosity, openness, and playfulness of childhood in creating this unique process?
Christopher Colville Photograph by Josh Loeser
Christopher Colville: I am an idea-based artist who is driven by curiosity. I have a lot of questions about the world and the medium of photography and I am always looking for new ways to engage those questions. Remaining open to surprise and new experiences are the most important things I can do as an artist. Openness to surprise and the unknown is robust in childhood but often muted in adults. Maintaining a healthy sense of wonder and awe opens the door to new questions and ways of engaging the medium.
AJ: There is such a clean line between these materials and what you were doing with your friends as a kid… do you feel like this is a creative path you’ve been headed down since childhood or was there more of a sense of rediscovery/remembering?
CC: There is a strangely clean line between my childhood experiments and the work I am doing today but it hasn’t always been the case. My work has taken a meandering path, I have taken on many jobs, engaging a variety of questions and making wildly different work, but I have always followed my curiosity. I grew up exploring the desert lots that surrounded my neighborhood, building forts in the dry river beds, searching for artifacts on hillsides and occasionally breaking the rules and blowing things up. I am the same person today. The freedom I had growing up formed my understanding of the world; it is less about returning to childhood curiosities, instead, it is about never having let go.
AJ: Has this process evolved in methodology and practical approach since its beginning? How so? Are the spirit of experimentation and openness to failure important?
CC: It is important to me that the work is continually evolving both conceptually and physically. Once that stops it will be time to move on. In the early stages of this work, I was seduced by the volatility of the process and thrilled by anything that showed promise. Over time I have gained an understanding of materials while building a vocabulary of mark making to put to use in engaging larger questions. The work is still full of surprises and failure plays a huge role. I feel that we have to embrace failure because it provides an opportunity for understanding, it is necessary for growth, and discovery, and can be beautiful at times. It is important to jump head first into the unknown.…predictability is boring.
AJ: I feel like for many viewers the conversation around this work becomes very centered on process and figuring out exactly how the images are made. However, I feel a deeply meditative quality, an underlying concept and idea driving the work. Is there a specific connection between your process and your conceptual framework? Does your approach change from series to series conceptually, in practice, or in both ways?
CC: The process of this work is engaging. Understanding how things are made provides an entry point for conversation, but the process is just the beginning. I dove into this work because I am interested in bigger questions. I am fascinated by the dual nature of creation and destruction, issues of power, violence, beauty and the sublime. I am interested in turning photography inside out and questioning issues of perception. Those willing to look beyond the initial spectacle of gunpowder and smoke often find more engaging conversations.
Each series within this work shifts to engage new questions. The genesis of the work was an exploration of the base elements of the photographic medium and over time the work has evolved to explore energy, fluid, motion, light, chaos, reactive materials, and violence. Early prints reference the vast darkness of the universe with celestial illusions. The Dark Hours Horizons move toward meditative simplicity with prints that are reduced to a single line, a delineation. This single line disrupting the traditional flat surface of the paper, suggesting depth and the discovery of a landscape that does not exist. The most current work engages issues of violence, power and American volatility with images I find to be both horrifying and revelatory. The life-size human forms emerge from bullet-riddled acts of violence are much more complicated to deal with emotionally.
AJ: In one of your statements you use a quote from Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (which also happens to be one of my favorite lines from that book) that touches on our inability to perceive the strangeness and inevitable ephemerality and calamity in our world. There is a sense of the unknown and uncontrollable here that points to ideas like entropy and chaos. In a previous discussion, we had talked about McCarthy’s ability to capture darkness in a beautiful way, as he does in this quote. Do you think that dichotomy or tension between the inherent darkness/chaos of nature and traditional notions of “beauty” is important, or at least has a place, in your work?
CC: I return to passages from Blood Meridian often and every time I am filled with a sense of wonder and dread. McCarthy weaves beauty into the most debased acts of human nature calling attention to deeply problematic involvement in destruction; destruction that is often based in our compulsion to live. We are entangled in the strangenesses of the world that are both awe-inspiring and horrific. I believe this is a strangeness that we will never fully sort out, but through artwork, we can call attention to the contradictions and awaken a desire to be fully present and aware of the conflict that resides in our own belief systems. I believe this is particularly poignant for artists working in the landscape where lines are drawn and artists often choose sides. Our relationship to the land is complex and I want to reflect the totality of experience, taking responsibility for my actions but leaving room for a sense of wonder. Beauty can be a vehicle to span the gap, creating a rupture in our understanding.
It is human nature to be fascinated by the ugly or tragic. We are drawn to conflict and tragedy perhaps as a way of mitigating our own guilt or exercising our values. Maybe as a measure of our own moral compass, in an effort to feel better, feel lucky, feel happy. Artwork such as mine, and writing such as McCarthy’s may work in the opposite direction, seducing you in with beauty or fascination, but then the real exploration begins, the potential for discord and poignancy revealed.
William Kittredge writes in The Nature of Generosity, “It’s in our nature to keep coming back, touching the wound, trying to heal ourselves.”
AJ: You mention in a piece of writing that you are drawn to the mystery of the desert, and many of the literary quotes that you highlight in various artist statements center around that specific landscape. Can you elaborate a bit more on that, and how it relates to your work?
CC: I feel a deep connection to the desert. There is a freedom of spirit in the desert southwest that feeds my experimental tendencies. It is harsh, beautiful and full of contradictions. My work is a reflection of this space. I find nourishment in the freedom of vast open desert, expansive sky and ability to get lost in the landscape. On summer nights I ride desert trails cutting through the center of the fastest growing county in the country. These trails follow the ruins of the ancient Hohokam canals, linking swaths of desert preserves that appear as dark pools surrounded by the lights of the massive city. On the trails I encounter coyote, javelina, Gila monsters, all pronouncing that the wild spirit of the desert exists in the heart of a city of 4.3 million. The desert is truly a part of me, as I am a part of it. Nearly my entire existence has been an experience occurring in the desert. The openness of the land is critical. I need to work outdoors in the darkness of night in a space that I won’t bother neighbors with my slightly theatrical acts. Relocating elsewhere would primarily change me, which would undoubtedly change my art.
I have spent a great deal of time hiking a beautiful portion of land in southern Arizona that runs parallel to the US-Mexico border. Since 1941 the land has been used as a gunnery range providing training for aerial and air-to-ground combat. Sections are littered with unexploded ordnance and I have been told of a forest of gliders sticking out of the ground like oversized lawn darts after being pulled behind airplanes for target practice. The great contradiction is, this land is likely the most pristine, undeveloped portion of the Sonoran Desert. I am fascinated by spaces such as the gunnery range, spaces where history and mythology are embedded in the landscape. I often think about the Trinity site and scars both visible and unseen affected on the land in our attempts to exercise power and control. These things all influence my work. The gunpowder is, however, less about gunslingers and the wild west and more about energy, heat, power, creation, and consumption. I often use black powder, a composite discovered by alchemists searching for the elixir of life. What they found was not an elixir, but instead a reactive compound used for beautiful celebratory fireworks as well as a weapon that would kill untold numbers of people.
AJ: Furthermore, “Place” seems to be key also in the work’s physical creation… needing darkness to create the explosions, which make images on the photographic paper, and to develop them. You do all of this on-site. Does being in the openness of the desert influence the imagery? Do you think the work would change if the landscape around you were different?
CC: I am still wrestling with the body of work titled Beyond Reckoning. This work is challenging but I am coming to terms with it and excited about a group of images I haven’t shown, titled Revenies. In addition, I am expanding the scale of work and chasing a number of new questions. I am not sure where they will take me but excited about the prospects. I was going to say I love this point in the working process, but when I shared this thought with my wife, she was correct in calling my bluff by saying,
Do you? Maybe you love some elements but let’s be honest, it causes a little anxiety—maybe you love that it forces you to sit down and read, forces you to go for desert adventures looking for new artifacts to ponder, forces you to write and get your thoughts out. But somehow I think this also ties into the conflict—you get comfortable with it all being “sorted out” and are looking for the conflict again.
She knows me better than anyone.
• • •
Christopher Colville: FLUX
On view through Saturday, June 22nd
For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 505-988-5152 x202 or email@example.com.
All works listed were available for at the time this post was published.
photo-eye Gallery From the Flat-Files: Kate Breakey's Orotones By Alexandra JoGallery Assistant Alexandra Jo profiles a new selection of Orotones by represented artist Kate Breakey now available at photo-eye Gallery.
By Alexandra Jo
Kate Breakey calls her process “an act of investigation—a passionate attempt to establish an understanding of the natural world.” Her luminous Orotones (images printed directly onto glass then backed with hand-applied gold leaf) certainly offer a broad approach to this spirit of examination, featuring subjects from lunar eclipses, to foreign landscapes, to nude figures, to intimate portraits of the fragile bodies of insects. This week, I’ve had the pleasure of carefully cataloging this series of Breakey’s work while preparing a new portfolio of her photographs for photo-eye Gallery’s website.
What first struck me about the work is the capacity for variance within this process. Each image is printed in an edition of 20, but the hand-application of the gold leaf and the custom framing that accompany the images make each work feel exceptional and unique. The way the light catches specific variations and details in the laid gold visually captivates, creating a glowing quality of tonal warmth. The works are capable of transforming before the viewer’s eyes. Each image is cast in a shimmering gold aura as light qualities shift, even in environments of low light. Breakey keeps the physical size of the works relatively small; the largest images in this series only measure about 20 x 24 inches. This offers the audience an equally intimate experience of each work, regardless of subject matter.
"Making images of these things is a natural extension of being fascinated, touched, or intrigued by them. This process of seeing, and recording transforms me. It is how I express wonder and love, a form of dedication. It is also a record of my life and my desire to connect myself to all other things, the acknowledgement of a search for explanation, for meaning and significance, a primal longing to grasp things which are unknowable." — Kate Breakey
As a visual artist, this sentiment resonates strongly with my own conceptual intentions in the studio, especially the impulse to observe and record as a means of connecting with the wider world. The way Breakey looks at scale from micro to macro in this series makes me think about those big, enigmatic questions of meaning and significance, and attempt to orient myself as a human being in the universe. Ultimately, the inquisitive spirit and visual luster of the work are a beautiful marriage of visual pleasure and deeper emotion and thought. Breakey’s work invites the viewer to go past the purely aesthetic and draw bigger, more meaningful connections within our world.
More of Breakey’s Orotones can be viewed in her new portfolio on photo-eye Gallery’s website.
All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. Prices will increase as print editions sell.
For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact photo-eye Gallery Staff at
Book Of The Week Not Just Your Face Honey Photographs by Stefanie Moshammer Reviewed by Owen Kobasz Not Just Your Face Honey is a photographic series by Austrian artist Stefanie Moshammer (born 1988) reflecting on the line between love and delusion. It is based on a love letter written to her in March 2014 by Troy C., a man unknown to her, which led the artist to explore questions of surveillance and stalking.
Not Just Your Face Honey. By Stefanie Moshammer.
Not Just Your Face Honey Photographs by Stefanie Moshammer
Spector Books/C/O Berlin Foundation, 2019. 144 pp., 67 illustrations, 8¾x11¼x¾".
“HELLO, HELLO the Upper Most incredible, sensational, Amazing, and Beautiful girl/woman or anything I’ve ever seen!! I knocked on your door or the house you are helping at because I was looking to say Hi to my ex-girlfriend. Forget her, I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears when you opened the door twice. Not just your face honey but your voice melted my Heart!”
These are the opening lines to a letter Stefanie Moshammer received in March 2014 from Troy C., a near stranger. The unprovoked letter followed a five-minute encounter one week earlier. Moshammer was staying in Las Vegas to shoot Vegas and She when Troy knocked on her door looking for his ex-girlfriend. Moshammer’s new series, Not Just Your Face Honey, uses abstract imagery to explore the emotions provoked by this overwhelming declaration of love.
Published by C/O Berlin in conjunction with Spector Books, the eye-catching photobook is covered in a deep green, almost reflective, vinyl fabric that changes, like a holographic card. The first pages showcase Troy’s letter — not as a text supplement, but rather, as an object. Each of the three images zooms in closer than the last, inviting the feeling — to open such a document. The letter is then broken up into fragments scattered throughout the book among Moshammer’s images, intertwining the two narratives into one, new object.
“Please, Please stay in our Beautiful, wonderful country and you can stay with me at my awesome House anytime”, reads one page. The following photographs trace a journey: A sign for Interstate 15, pointed towards Barstow, CA. The mountains. A strangely beautiful camper, mirroring the surrounding desert. Gas stations and motels. The open road. And finally, car headlights shining on a suburban house. Blurred figures walking the street.
The images are inconsistent. Some are color, others are black and white; one may take up a whole page while another is the fraction of the size. Through these images, however, a narrative is carried. In some ways it is an exploration of what Moshammer’s life would have been like had she accepted the offer, had she driven out of the state and stayed in Troy’s “Awesome” house. Troy’s words serve as the frame for Moshammer’s photographs, Moshammer’s photographs illustrate how the words may actually feel.
At no point in the series, however, is there a truly idyllic image of love. The first formal picture is a satellite image with Moshammer’s address highlighted in an orange circle. Immediately invoking ideas of surveillance, which have become especially poignant in the age of GPS smartphones. Although by accident, he does know where she lives, giving him power and altering the dynamic in any relationship to follow
The letter Moshammer received was addressed to “Austria Girl.” Stefanie Moshammer is Austria Girl, but Austria Girl isn’t just Stephanie Moshammer. The lack of a name in a document this intensely personal goes on to highlight the impersonal nature of the whole affair. Moshammer captures the impersonal nature in her portraits — they’re faceless. Faces are cropped out, covered by jackets, or intentionally blurred, leaving bodies, without identities, doing things.
Three uncovered portraits do appear towards the end. They are, however, so washed out that it’s nearly impossible to make out their facial expressions. Like ghosts viewed through very thick glass, there is nothing that you can discern about them — they could be anyone or everyone.
Not Just Your Face Honey is more than a reaction to this bizarre love letter. It uses the scattered format found in the original document to put forth a powerful exploration of love, illusion, surveillance, and identity. Through out is an outsider view of America, through beautiful landscapes and open roads, as well as more sinister elements. “I can be your ticket to USA citizenship” — and a page of bald eagle stamps with a lone image of a woman in bubble wrap, an exotic export. Moshammer creates a narrative of impressions, inviting the viewer to follow her feelings on this bizarre occurrence.
photo-eye Gallery Gallery Favorites Christopher Colville – Flux Anne, Lucas, and Alexandra highlight three notable images from Flux, currently on view at photo-eye Gallery through Saturday June, 22nd.
Christopher Colville’s exhibition of unique, camera-less, gun-powder generated photographs, titled Flux, opened at photo-eye Gallery on April 26th to an intrigued, perplexed, and ultimately enraptured audience. Colville’s one-of-a-kind photographs are enthralling in both their creation and their visual presence. It is easy to get wrapped up in the thrill and mystery of the process when looking at photographs created without a camera by igniting gunpowder directly onto photographic paper onsite in the desert at night. Indeed, understanding that process can be an important aspect of looking at and responding to these explosive abstract images. However, Colville’s work also has the distinct ability to speak directly to individual viewers on a powerful personal level. Each piece uniquely evokes fantastical landscapes, captures bursts of violent action, opens up enigmatic celestial maps, or creates murky, gossamer atmospheric texture in a way that allows each viewer to enter the work in their own way. This week the photo-eye Gallery staff was charged with the seemingly-impossible task of picking a favorite piece out of this compelling and captivating exhibition. Read more on their selections below.
The works by Christopher Colville that are included in our current exhibition Flux are unique photographs that are made without the use of a camera, but with simply the essence of photography–light. Each composition is pure abstraction which is the orchestrated result of tiny gunpowder-fueled explosion on moonless nights in the Arizona desert. Though the images are abstract, I have noticed that gallery visitors have started to see objects within the imagery like planets, rocket-ships, cactus', and more. The piece that I’ve fallen in love with is Dark Hours Horizon 101, a tiny tryptic that reminds me of a stormy desert landscape. So there you have it, I continue to be attracted to unique, expressive landscapes that connect to my own personal experience. I also love the scale of this piece, it just asks you to slow down and take a closer looks at the surface and beyond. Over the horizon hang stormy clouds where an epic storm blowing in. The surface is this print almost looks like rusted metal, and on closer inspection, there is just a touch of iridescence, which I recently learned it is possible on certain rare clouds. Dark Hours Horizon 101 is a tiny abstracted landscape created by a small explosion–what is not to love?
Like my colleagues, I had a difficult time highlighting just a single image from Christopher Colville's impressive collection in Flux. This is my favorite type of photography, it's tactile, experimental, material-based, cameraless, and unique. Fluid Variant 2 stands out for me due to its bold design, sense of balance, and expressive nature. A precise, but broken, diagonal, bisects the picture plane perfectly separating light from dark, the concrete from the organic. The effect is striking. A burst of energy erupting from the center dramatically joins these two disconnected planes breaking the diagonal, evenly cutting the image again vertically, and throwing the lighter portion into fluttering chaos. Paired with Colville's rich rust-colored print tone the overarching effect of Fluid Variant 2 is earthly and elemental. More than any other work I've seen recently, Colville's images seem physical, their representations of movement, weight, texture, and material are extraordinary. I've probably already spent hours viewing Fluid Variant 2 delighting in its consummate aesthetic and meditating on its dynamic paradoxes. Overall, the image is enigmatic with an impressive design that leaves room for personal interpretation and reflection.
In a recent conversation with Christopher Colville, we discussed the writing of Cormac McCarthy, as Colville uses a quote from Blood Meridian in one of his artist statements that happens to be a favorite of mine. In the discussion, we spoke about the landscape of the desert, in which Blood Meridian takes place, and what that specific environment means to each of us. Colville's entire process often takes place outside at night in the open desert. We agreed that there is a violence to that landscape, but also a specific loveliness, and talked about McCarthy’s ability to articulate darkness and beauty simultaneously. For me, Colville’s work is also able to do that; it emphasizes the dichotomy and symbiosis between light and dark, and reveals the allure of the shadow.
Dark Hours Horizon 87 was my favorite work in Flux the instant we pulled it out of its shipping crate. The image is one from Colville’s Dark Hours series, which features mostly smaller works, each resembling desolate and mysterious landscapes. The placement of gunpowder in lines and ridges on the photographic paper implies a physical horizon line when ignited to create the image, allowing these camera-less photographs to obliquely point to the environment in which they were created.
Dark Hours Horizon 87 in particular is only 4 x 5 inches and offers an intimate examination of Colville’s mercurial physical process, drawing the viewer in with flashes of iridescence in the dark, ethereal atmosphere of its “horizon.” The colors of the image range from rust to copper to metallic blues and greens, down through magentas and deepest blacks. The way the smoke and light from this explosion swoops skyward conjures images of ravenous prairie fires, wind-swept cloud formations over vast desert mesas, and the feeling of standing alone and vulnerable in the openness of nature under boundless stars and galaxies. Ultimately for me, the power of this tiny image lies in its ability to evoke the colossal, enduring power and chaos of nature and the cosmos that has always been beyond complete human reckoning.
• • •
Christopher Colville: FLUX
On view through Saturday, June 22nd
For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 505-988-5152 x202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
All works listed were available for at the time this post was published.
Book Of The Week Atlantic City Photographs by Brian Rose Reviewed by Blake Andrews Nothing’s Coming Soon is an extended meditation on the signs and signals that life is the greatest unsolved mystery. Photographing the beauty that’s to be found in the everyday, Jordan lets us feel in a palpable way how we’re always a half step away from joy, death, disintegration and renewal.
"Cities are built on closeness and connection, not on voids." This insight comes near the end of Paul Goldberger's introductory essay to Atlantic City, the new photobook by Brian Rose. "New Jersey's Potemkin village," Goldberger calls it, and Rose's photos confirm the judgement. The voids upon which cities are not built appear here in force, in virtually every image. There are 58 total in the book. Altogether their mood is relentlessly downcast. If you have some affinity for Atlantic City, look away. This book will not be cheery.
How did the city arrive at this point? Its long, sad decline is probably familiar to most and too lengthy to expound on here. For those curious, Goldberger's essay provides a concise local history from an architectural critic's perspective. To summarize, the metropolis which began as an aspirational symbol —"the world's playground" and the very root of the board game Monopoly!— hit one bottom after another throughout the 20th century. The advent of legalized gambling in 1976 was meant as a financial panacea. Instead it accelerated the collapse, as charlatans and confidence men rushed in feed on the helpless house of cards.
Against all odds, one of those swindlers eventually became the president of the United States. In some ways, Donald Trump and Atlantic City were a perfect match, a smooth-talking huckster set free amid the shady casino underworld. The result was perhaps inevitable. Trump sucked the city dry and then walked away, cynically capped by a lawsuit to have his name removed from its buildings.
It may be simplistic to blame all of Atlantic City's ills on Trump—his void was merely one of many—but his cartoonish-tycoonish persona fits nicely with photos of foreclosed blank facades. When Goldberger calls the city "a curious combination of the tawdry and the aspirational," he might be describing the president.
Rose holds an even less charitable view of the president. Just past the book's gilded end pages, one of the opening photos depicts the derelict Taj Mahal built precariously atop the nearby beach. Even stripped of its Trump signs, the building's message reads loud and clear: a glittering chimera built on a sandy foundation. To drive the point home, a short caption on the facing page recalls Trump's failures in Atlantic City.
The photo/text juxtaposition sets the pattern for most of the book's photographs. Images appear on the right page, supported by short bits of text on the left. There are drop quotes from politicians, pundits, and journalists recalling various promises made and broken to Atlantic City. Some of the text is by Rose himself. Perhaps a third are actual Trump tweets bragging about how he successfully ditched the city. Great timing…Not responsible…When I left, it went to hell. Etc.
Rose's photographs make a very good case for the place going to hell. The architecture was already terrible even before urban decay set in —"airport hotels with casinos attached," according to Goldberg. Before Rose's lens it looks even worse. Using large-format color film, he captures a broad swath of urban decay with each exposure. His tendency is to step back a bit from his subject matter, allowing some empty foreground —usually paved— into the bottom. The upper parts of the photographs reveal a shifting chiaroscuro of walls, advertisements, empty lots, weed patches, beach, parking garages, utility poles. This is the in-between vernacular, the daily detritus that normally contextualizes subject matter.
In Atlantic City, Rose forces the vernacular into a leading role, with obvious shortcomings. Although Atlantic City has almost 40,000 residents, you wouldn't know it from Rose's photos, which are largely uninhabited. The tone is post-apocalyptic or, if you prefer, post-Trump.
Is this a selective version of Atlantic City? Of course. No doubt one could wander the streets and find pockets of activity. But Rose sought out the empty spots instead, following a political agenda. The end result is a strong photographic and cultural statement. Thumbing through the book, one can't help wondering, as Goldberger does, "is Atlantic City emblematic of what is happening to the country as a whole?"
That national history is still being written, so we don't yet have an answer. Rose's book might be considered the nightmare scenario. Judging by the president's track record in Atlantic City, wider carnage is not implausible, and Rose's book might be seen in five years as an ominous warning. Will we spin the wheel and take another chance? Or call it good and walk away?
photo-eye Bookstore Isa Leshko Book Signing Allowed to Grow Old Saturday, May 4, 4-6 pm photo-eye Bookstore is proud to welcome acclaimed photographer Isa Leshko to Santa Fe for a book signing and artist talk celebrating the release of her new monograph Allowed to Grow Old, published by the University of Chicago Press.
ABOUT THE EVENT photo-eye Bookstore is proud to welcome acclaimed photographer Isa Leshko to Santa Fe for a book signing and artist talk celebrating the release of her new monograph Allowed to Grow Old, published by the University of Chicago Press. The book signing and artist talk is held in conjunction with an exhibition of selected works from Allowed to Grow Old at Richard Levy Gallery in Albuquerque, on view from April 26th – June 7th, 2019. Beginning at 4pm on May 4th, Leshko will be available to sign copies of Allowed to Grow Old as well as perform a reading from the book, discuss her practice, and take questions from the audience until 6 pm.
ABOUT THE ARTWORK Allowed to Grow Old is a dignified and affectionate portrait series of elderly animals living on farm sanctuaries. Prompted by an event in Leshko's personal life, Allowed to Grow Old is a treatise on mortality through the lens of animal rights. Images of Teresa, a thirteen-year-old Yorkshire Pig, or Melvin, an eleven-year-old Angora Goat, make us aware of just how rare it is to see a farm animal reach an advanced age. Rescued from abuse and neglect, the animals are circumspect of strangers, and Leshko often spends hours attuning with each animal ensuring they feel safe and comfortable before she makes even a single image. The effect is charming, challenging, and ultimately unforgettable.
In the book, each portrait is accompanied by a brief biographical note about its subject and is rounded out with essays that explore the history of animal photography, the place of beauty in activist art, and much more.
“By depicting the beauty and dignity of elderly farm animals, I invite reflection upon what is lost when these animals are not allowed to grow old.” – Isa Leshko
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Isa Leshko. Photo by Ron Cowie.
Isa Leshko is an artist and writer whose work examines themes relating to animal rights, aging, and mortality. Her images have been published in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, and The New York Times among others. Isa has received fellowships from the Bogliasco Foundation, the Culture & Animals Foundation, the Houston Center for Photography, the Millay Colony for the Arts, and the Silver Eye Center for Photography. She has exhibited her work widely in the United States and her prints are in numerous private and public collections, including the Boston Public Library, Fidelity Investments, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
In keeping with his acuminate style, Mitch Dobrowner’s newest photograph Nacreous Over Badlands is patient, elegant, and boundless in its sense of temporality. For this image, Dobrowner visited a specific site in Utah, waiting for the perfect instant in which the landscape would visually reveal itself in all of the exquisite, hostile, sublimity that he feels there. That moment arrived when he captured the ethereal bands of a nacreous cloud formation over the undulating folds of the desert buttes below.
“Nacreous” technically means iridescent, or glowing in bright color, and that atmospheric depth of value is strikingly captured in Dobrowner’s signature black-and-white style. In both earth and sky, every detail is crystallized in the photograph. Distant mesas show a shift in scale but are just as legible as the primary desert features of the foreground. The earth’s vastness beneath the firmament becomes blatantly apparent.
At the heart of Dobrowner’s work is the concept of perpetual ephemerality on a universal scale. In this particular image, the harshness and enduring stillness of the desert underneath striations of wind-blown clouds directly contrasts shifting changes of atmospheric motion with the seeming constancy of stone. However, just as the wind has swept up the shimmering cloud formation and carried it across the sky, it was also responsible for patiently carving the rippling rock formations. When viewing the photograph, the viewer becomes aware of the different scales and ratios of time that are constantly at work in the natural world around us.
"The deserts of the American Southwest have always been the inspiration and foundation of my photography. Particularly Southern Utah, which is a unique, special place. Its remoteness, serenity, and extremes are like no place on the Earth. I've visited this particular location, just outside of Capitol Reef and the San Rafael Swell, in the Factory Badlands many times -- always waiting for something to happen that would allow me to illustrate how this wild landscape spoke to me. In mid-March 2019 that something special took place.
These badlands are part of the Mancos Shale formation; geologically they were created more recently than most other parts of the Colorado Plateau. The top of these buttes are formed of Emery sandstone, overlying the Blue Gate shale. The environment is hostile, devoid to any type of plant life. To experience it is like experiencing what it would be like to stand on an alien planet." – Mitch Dobrowner
Nacreous Over Badlands, Factory Badlands, Utah, 2019
Edition of 15
14x20": starting at $1,500
Edition of 25
20x30": starting at $2,500
Edition of 5:
1 : $5,000
2 : $7,000
3 : $9,000
4 : $11,000
5 : Held by artist
To purchase prints of the new image at the first tier price-point please contact Gallery Staff at 505-988-5152 x202 or email@example.com.
photo-eye Gallery Christopher Colville: FLUX Behind the Image Opening & Artist Reception: Friday, April 26th, 5–7pm Phoenix-based photographer Christopher Colville discusses making one of FLUX's signature images Meditations on the Northern Hemisphere 4
Christopher Colville’s photography is unexpectedly graceful. One might anticipate a more blatant violent effect when viewing images created by firing gunpowder on top of silver gelatin photographic paper, but Colville’s works evoke a range of descriptive words like fluid, subtle, dark, mysterious. However, there is certainly a sense of explosiveness prevalent in the work; the gunpowder physically burns and erodes the photographic paper even as it activates the light-sensitive silver gelatin to create Colville’s ethereal, yet tactile images. Interspersed with the more fluid atmospheric photographs, some of the works bring to mind a spray of fireworks across the sky, lunar bodies, eroded metal, or a brutally pockmarked topography. Colville claims that he is inspired by the idea of making work that is the “direct result of an action,” and that inspiration is overtly present across each work.
photo-eye Gallery is excited to welcome Colville as a represented gallery artist with Flux, a solo exhibition opening Friday, April 26th from 5-7pm. Flux features images from three different series by Colville. Dark Hours includes images that resemble landscapes, and the most recent works, or Flux Variants, are all created with long, narrow paper.
The earliest series featured in Flux, called Meditations of the Northern Hemisphere, features images of large, circular orbs centered in the composition. This series is created using a metal disc, punctured with a pattern of constellations, which is placed in on the paper during the explosions. These works create a celestial map of sorts. In a recent conversation with photo-eye Gallery Director Anne Kelly, Colville elaborated on the process and conceptual framework behind the Meditations on the Northern Hemisphere series:
"A few years ago I had a conversation with a friend while camping in the desert. We were discussing understanding the calendar and time through the night sky and were trying to remember the season of specific camping trips by constellations we had viewed around the campfire. The following weekend I found a metal disc in the desert that reminded me of maps I had of constellations when I was a child. Wanting to better learn the night sky I punched out a map of the constellations on this metal disc to use as a scaffolding or negative to filter gunpowder driven exposures. The small burn marks in the circle are a rough map of the night sky. Each of the prints in the Northern Hemisphere series is made with the same map, using varying combinations of powder and pressure to allow the piece to transform. These were the first variant prints I made." – Christopher Colville
Book Of The Week Nothing's Coming Soon Photographs by Clay Maxwell Jordan Reviewed by Blake Andrews Nothing’s Coming Soon is an extended meditation on the signs and signals that life is the greatest unsolved mystery. Photographing the beauty that’s to be found in the everyday, Jordan lets us feel in a palpable way how we’re always a half step away from joy, death, disintegration and renewal.
Nothing's Coming SoonPhotographs by Clay Maxwell Jordan
Fall Line Press, Atlanta, USA, 2018. 94 pp., 59 color illustrations, 9¼x11½".
Nothing's Coming Soon, the title of Clay Maxwell Jordan's debut monograph (Fall Line Press, 2018) is a phrase wide open to interpretation. That's just fine by Jordan, who deliberately chose the title for its ambiguous qualities. "Perhaps the most obvious interpretation," he explains, "is that dead/non-existence is imminent… Literally 'nothing' is coming soon." Hmm, okay.
"The other meaning," he continues, "is perhaps a bit more oblique: a repudiation of the 'overnight cure' mentality that seems so predominant the world over, but particularly in America." A third meaning, according to Jordan, might refer to human progress. The arc of the moral universe may indeed bend toward justice, but hang tight because it might take a while. Nothing's coming soon.
Like the title, the photos in Jordan's book don't reveal their meaning easily. Ostensibly they are portraits and landscapes describing Jordan's home state of Georgia. But their emotional resonance, halfway between mischievous and graceful, defies easy penetration. Portraits of people comprise roughly half of the book's fifty-nine photos, but Jordan's deadpan approach keeps his subjects at arm's reach. Some subjects are caught gaping mid-moment. Others turn their back to the camera, or leer into the background. It's tough to form any sure judgement about them, and indeed Jordan himself doesn't know much. These are strangers found in passing. Perhaps nothing's coming soon for them. But who can tell for sure?
Jordan takes a cagey approach to social landscape. The lush vegetation of the south makes its presence felt, but in a supporting role. Instead, toys, statues, and vernacular structures step into the spotlight, sometimes quite literally. There are a few domestic interiors in the mix too, their character stripped to flat tones by Jordan's flash. Bit by bit, Jordan gets at the southern vernacular. A moody church nightscape conveys the local sensibility as well as a hunting decoy. But it's the universal themes that expand the territory. Photos, like a dog leaping for joy, or light passing through branches, or a blank house facade, recall southern giants like Eggleston and Steinmetz.
The entropic passage of time is a recurring subject. Photos of a splintered utility pole, a mangled culvert, a discarded note, and a busted mural hint at devolution, all capped by a mansion in despair —a home inspired by Oscar Wilde, the anecdote recounted in Alexander Nemerov's (Diane Arbus' nephew) afterward. Jordan's wit, however, keeps his photos from descending into the old ruin porn schtick. Instead, he acknowledges decay with a nod and a wink. Yes, nothing's coming soon. But it's less of a tragedy than irony.
At first glance, the book's elegant design seems out of keeping with its clever contents. The title is in gilded script, across a plain pink cloth cover. Not very ironic at all. But a visit to the Fall Press site made things clear for me. The book is modeled on a funeral program, "forebod(ing) an exploration of life’s most pressing issue: death." Ah, makes sense now. Hopefully that version of nothing is still far off. In the meantime, Jordan's book is an entertaining interlude.
photo-eye Gallery New Exhibition Christopher Colville: FLUX Opening & Artist Reception: Friday, April 26th, 5–7pm "The photograph is essentially a transformation orchestrated by an artist" is the mantra of Phoenix-based photographer Christopher Colville, and his new solo exhibition Flux at photo-eye Gallery exemplifies the maxim.
Christopher Colville: FLUX Opening & Artist Reception: Friday, April 26, 5 – 7 PM On View: April 26 – June 22, 2019 » View FLUX
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION “The photograph is essentially a transformation orchestrated by an artist,” is the mantra of Phoenix-based photographer Christopher Colville, and his new solo exhibition Flux at photo-eye Gallery exemplifies the maxim. Enigmatic, emotional, and explosive, Christopher Colville’s unique silver gelatin prints are contemporary in their execution and methodology while their appearance seems timeless. Crafted using controlled gunpowder-based explosions Colville records the blast’s energy as it travels across traditional light-sensitive photographic paper yielding abstract images that are expressive, not descriptive. photo-eye Gallery is proud to welcome Colville as a represented artist, and Flux will open Friday, April 26, 2019, with a reception held from 5–7 pm corresponding with the Last Friday Art Walk in the Railyard Arts District.
“The images in this series meditate on the dual nature of creation and destruction. They are created outdoors at night by igniting a small portion of gunpowder on the surface of silver gelatin paper. In the resulting explosion, light and energy abrade and burn the surface while simultaneously exposing the light-sensitive silver emulsion. I loosely control the explosion by placing objects I have gathered in the field on the paper’s surface, but the results are often surprising and unpredictable as the explosive energy of gunpowder is the true generative force creating the image. I believe that by working in these ways, the images push the material and symbolic limitations of the medium. They turn the photograph inside out while creating something that is both serendipitous and elemental. The images are the residue of both creation and obliteration, generated from a single spark.” – Christopher Colville
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Christopher Colville, Photograph by Josh Loeser
Born in 1974 in Tucson, Arizona, Christopher Colville received his BFA in Anthropology and Photography from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri and his MFA in Photography from the University of New Mexico. Chris has taught in multiple institutions including as a visiting Assistant Professor at Arizona State University as well as working as the photography editor for Prompt Press. Christopher’s work has been included in both national and international exhibitions. Recent awards include the Ernst Cabat Award through the Tucson Museum of Art, Critical Mass top 50, the Humble Art Foundations New Photography Grant, an Arizona Commission on the Arts Artist Project Grant, a Public Art Commission from the Phoenix Commission on the Arts and an artist fellowship through the American Scandinavian Foundation. Christopher’s work has been reviewed in national and international publications including Art in America, L.A. Times, Boston Globe, and GUP Magazine. He currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.
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