- This Land is Your Land
Emerging Artist Series #3: Nuttaphol Ma
September 24 – November 20, 2009
Lenzner Family Art Gallery
In the third installment of Pitzer’s Emerging Artist Series, Thai-born, Los Angeles based artist Nuttaphol Ma combines references to Manzanar—an abandoned Japanese relocation camp at the base of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range—with Woody Guthrie’s missing lyrics from “This Land Is Your Land.” Ma’s site-specific installation explores issues of displacement, migration and survival and asks whether “This Land Is Your Land” is still relevant to today’s new immigrants.
This Land is Your Land is co-organized with the 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica.
Tags: Emerging Artist Series, Lenzner Gallery, Nuttaphol Ma, Past Exhibitions
- Gold Flood
Emerging Artist Series #2: Karen Lofgren
July 23 – September 11, 2009
Lenzner Family Art Gallery
In the second Emerging Artist series, Los Angeles-based Canadian artist Karen Lofgren creates a site-specific project for the Lenzner Family Art Gallery at Pitzer College. Lofgren’s richly evocative and provoking objects—a gigantic gold-linked chain, a life-size unicorn made from Christmas lights and transparent tape and golden chain spider webs—are made from a collection of unusual substances and materials that can be both somber and absurd. Alluding to a host of diverse references—minimalism, corporate architecture, rock and consumer culture aesthetics—Lofgren’s highly unique, ‘life-scale’ sculptural works and installations tackle a range of subjects including medieval alchemy, natural history, politics and philosophy. Alluding to multiple narratives, the works wrestle with their materiality and deliver a highly satisfying visual experience. For the Lenzner Gallery, Lofgren will flood the floor with gold puddles.
Tags: Emerging Artist Series, Gold Flood, Karen Lofgren, Lenzner Gallery, Past Exhibitions, Summer 2009
- William Ransom
Emerging Artist #1: William Ransom
January 29 – March 27, 2009
Lenzner Family Art Gallery
Pitzer College Art Galleries inaugurates its new Emerging Artist Program in the Lenzner Family Art Gallery with its first artist-in-residence, William Ransom. Ransom, who makes meticulously crafted, large-scale sculptural works from recycled and found wood, will transform the space into an experimental hub from December 2008 to January 2009, culminating in a site-specific installation that includes composting and other biological entropic activities. Fusing the old and the new, Ransom combines nostalgia for bygone materials and production methods with sustainable solutions for a future lifestyle.
Tags: Emerging Artist Series, Lenzner Gallery, Past Exhibitions, William Ransom
- Clayton Campbell: After Abu Ghraib
01-22-09 through 03-27-09
Nichols Gallery, Broad Center & Lenzner Family Art Gallery, Atherton Hall
By intentionally corrupting the digital files of these insistently barbarous Abu Ghraib pictures, Los Angeles-based artist Clayton Campbell transformed them into large-scale, geometric, painterly works. Bands of translucent reds, blues and purples migrate across the surface, shredding and obscuring as they go, allowing an indulgence in sensuous abstraction, a short-lived reprieve from the heinous acts. Resembling ancient Mesopotamian sculptural fragments—like those looted at the beginning of the U.S. “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” the bodies detach and re-combine in surprisingly exquisite arrangements. The bands, reminiscent of those used to adjust the color image on our televisions, imply our readiness to accommodate and compromise our points of view. In a post-9/11 world, are we willing to accept torture and surrender our civil liberties? What are our true colors and how much are we willing to adjust them? Campbell‘s formal filter of distortion becomes a metaphor for averting our eyes—something we are only too eager to do.
Tags: After Abu Ghraib, Clayton Campbell, Lenzner Gallery, Nichols Gallery, Past Exhibitions, Spring 2009
- Narrowcast: Reframing Global Video 1986/2008
September 25 – November 23, 2008
Pitzer College Art Galleries
Lynn Blumenthal, Juan Downey, Antonio Muntadas, Marshall Reese, Michael Smith, Bill Viola, Natalie Bookchin, Mark Boulos, Regina Jose Galindo, Pablo Pijnappel, Artur Zmijewski
Curated by Ciara Ennis and Ming-Yuen S. Ma as part of Resolution 3: Video Praxis in Global Spaces
Pitzer Art Galleries & LACE present Narrowcast: Reframing Global Video 1986/2008 curated by Pitzer Art Galleries Director/Curator Ciara Ennis and Associate Professor of Media Studies Ming-Yuen S. Ma. The exhibition is part of Resolution 3, a collaboration between Pitzer College’s Media Studies program, Pitzer Art Galleries and LACE on the occasion of LACE’s thirtieth anniversary.
Narrowcast re-presents selected works from LACE’s seminal 1986 video exhibition Resolution: A Critique of Video Art and pairs them in compelling and unexpected ways with contemporary works, thus framing the medium’s brief history both formally and thematically. Resolution was one of the first exhibitions in the United States to embrace video as a serious art form and to discuss it in critical terms. Revisiting Resolution in relation to a number of exceptional contemporary video works demonstrates the influence that video art has had on artistic practice over the past two decades and testifies to the pivotal role and ubiquitous presence that the medium has in the contemporary global art world.
The ten selected artists in Narrowcast—five historical: Lyn Blumenthal, Juan Downey, Antonio Muntadas in collaboration with Marshall Reese, Michael Smith, Bill Viola and five contemporary: Natalie Bookchin, Mark Boulos, Regina José Galindo, Pablo Pijnappel, Artur Zmijewski—re-present Resolution in a way that emphasizes resonance and precedence rather than a comprehensive survey. And while the selected works, one from each artist, do not fit into neat categories, Curators Ennis and Ma have found historically significant connections that highlight the multi-layered and fragmented narratives inherent in both the archival and contemporary works.
Separated into five loose categories—embroidered narratives, autobiographical confessionals, restaging histories, documentary and reportage, trance and ritual—the works in Narrowcast reframe content as well as formal strategies that are as relevant in 1986 as it is now, thereby reflecting the range and inventiveness of the non-traditional narrative structures central to these artist’s works.
Tags: Antonio Muntadas, Artur Zmijewski, Bill Viola, collaboration, Fall 2008, Juan Downey, LACE, Lenzner Gallery, Lynn Blumenthal, Mark Boulos, Marshall Reese, Michael Smith, Narrowcast, Natalie Bookchin, Nichols Gallery, Pablo Pijnappel, Past Exhibitions, Regina Jose Galindo, Resolution 3, video
- Uncommon Practice: Faculty Show
05-16-08 thru 08-08-08
Nichols Gallery & Lenzner Family Art Gallery
Featuring: Steve Cahill, Eddie Gonzalez, Alexandra Juhasz, Gina Lamb, Jesse Lerner, Jessica Lawless, Ming-Yuen S. Ma, Jessica McCoy, Kathryn Miller and Kelly Sears
Steve Cahill’s 360° digital images are the contemporary descendents of the panoramas of Eadweard Muybridge and other nineteenth-century photographic pioneers. Cahill creates impossible illusions by stitching together multiple exposures of a landscape or an interior. The resulting scenes are eerily familiar, yet uncanny pictures of places we may think we recognize but appear warped and distorted by the camera’s lens and the compression of long exposures (ranging from ten to thirty minutes) into a single scene. Cahill’s images remind us that the artist and the camera do not merely record the objective world, but create new perceptions.
Steven J. Cahill received his MFA from Claremont Graduate University in 1979. Cahill has participated in numerous exhibitions including: Extreme Places, California Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA (2007); A Gathering of Photographers, Back to the Grind Gallery, Riverside, CA (2004); The Vertical View, Salathe Gallery, Pitzer College, Claremont, CA (1995); Pasadena Only, Pasadena City College Art Gallery, Pasadena, CA (1989); Maine Photographic Workshops Annual Show, Nikon House, Rockefeller Center, NY (1986); Light Sensitive VI, Gainesville, FL (1984). Steven Cahill is visiting assistant professor of art at Pitzer College.
Eddie Gonzalez’s series of posters may appear to announce a Hollywood premiere, but they are actually fictional advertisements for the end-date of the ancient Maya calendar. Prophesized as the transition from the present world into the next, December 21, 2012, has been imagined by many as a “doomsday.” Others look forward to the date for the return of Quetzalcoatl, the great, feathered serpent revered by the Pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica. Indeed, one might ponder whether 12-21-12 portends catastrophe, or the beginning of a new age. Gonzalez views the date as a last opportunity to reverse our current destructive course and heal the earth.
Eddie Gonzalez is a Pomona, California, based artist whose work includes graphic design, video, sculpture and silk screening. He received his BA in Media Studies and art from Pitzer College in 2004. He currently works as the assistant director of production for the Intercollegiate Media Studies Program at Pitzer College. [clear]
Alexandra Juhasz’s work as a director, producer, scholar and activist embodies her commitment to feminist theory and practice. As a videomaker living in New York in the ’80s and ’90s, Juhasz produced activist videos that documented a city ravaged by AIDS. Working with newly available, inexpensive camcorders, Juhasz and her collaborators reframed mainstream media representations of AIDS and disseminated much-needed information on the unfolding crisis. Her more recent short video, Naming Prairie, examines a Jewish naming ceremony for the daughter of a lesbian couple, offering an intimate view of how rituals and traditions are transformed to accommodate contemporary lives and families.
Alexandra Jeanne Juhasz received her PhD in Cinema Studies from New York University in 1992. Juhasz has participated in numerous exhibitions and screenings of her work including: the Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, Hong Kong, Creteil, Seoul, and Flaherty International Film Festivals; the New York, L.A., San Francisco, Toronto, Torino, and London Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals; the Whitney Biennial, Guggenheim, New Museum, Museo del Bario, LACE, London ICA, Wexner Center for the Arts. Juhasz’ feature film The Watermelon Woman (1995) earned “Teddy Bear” award at the Berlin Film Festival, the Audience Awards at Creteil Women’s Festival, Torino, Toronto and Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Festivals, Taipei Golden Horse Festival, and was featured at the New York and San Francisco Gay Festivals and Toronto Film Festival (1996). Juhasz’s short film Bad Bosses Go To Hell (1997) was screened at the Palm Springs International Short Fest, East Hamptons Short Film Festival, IFFM, airs on IFC, HBO Latin America, PBS, British Airways and atomfilm.com. Juhasz has received numerous artist grants and fellowships for her work including: the Wexner Center for the Arts: Editing Fellowship (2007); C-100, Inc., production support for Released (2000); Astraea Fund for Women: post-production grant for Women of Vision (1998); and California Council on the Humanities: Research Award for Women of Vision (1994). Alexandra Juhasz is professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College. [clear]
Gina Lamb is a media activist whose work has dealt with race, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, and immigrant issues. A collective portrait of the young gay black men in the House and Ball community of Los Angeles, Still Here: Becoming Legendary is the product of many collaborators within a community that has been defined by its status as a “triple minority—young, poor and gay.” Lamb’s raw and honest, yet artfully edited video eschews the omniscient voice-over of traditional documentaries. The young men in the video are not merely characters in a film. They are co-authors who narrate their own lives and worlds.
Gina Lamb received her MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1987. Lamb has participated in numerous exhibitions and screenings of her work including: Queer Youth Nation, OUTFEST, Los Angeles (2007, 2006, 2005, 2004); London Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, NewFest – New York, Mix-Mexico City (2005); Wipe Your Feet & The Chorizo Show, Track 16 Gallery, Santa Monica (2003); Queer Youth Nation, LAG&LC and LA Freewaves New Media Festival (2002); REACH OUT: LA and Beyond, LA Freewaves Video Festival (2000); and Mixed Memories, The Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, CA (1999).
Lamb has received many honors and awards including: Audience Award Best Documentary Short, FUSION Los Angeles LGBT People of Color Film Festival (2006); Audience Award Best Documentary Short, OUTFEST (2005); California Arts Council, Media Arts A.I.R. Grant (2002-03); City of Inglewood, Resolution of Appreciation in the Arts (2001); City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Grant – Media Arts (1998-2001); LACE/California Arts Council, Media Arts A.I.R. Grant (1996-98); and Anonymous Was A Woman Award (1996). Gina Lamb is visiting assistant professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College. [clear]
Jesse Lerner’s Ruins is a clever collage of found and fabricated footage that skewers the museumification of Mesoamerican artifacts and their conscription in the nationalist politics of the twentieth century. Lerner’s pelicula documental falsificada or “fake documentary” is a border-crosser of sorts, troubling the distinctions between the documentary and art, high and low, engagé critique and avant-garde experimentation, fiction and reality. Focusing on the story of a Mexican counterfeiter of antiquities whose work has been exhibited in major U.S. and European museums, Ruins is a meditation on notions of truth and colonialist biases of archaeology, ethnography, film and history.
Jesse Lerner received his PhD in Cultural Studies from Claremont Graduate University in 2006 and his MA in visual anthropology from the University of Southern California in 1991. Lerner has participated in many screenings and exhibitions of his work including: Galeria de Arte Contemporaneo, Xalapa, Veracruz (2008); Filmoteca de la UNAM, Mexico City (2007); Cinemateca Uruguaya, Montevideo (2007); Viva Mexico! Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw (2007); The Free Screen, Cinematheque Ontario, Toronto (2007); The Backroom, New Langton Arts and San Francisco Camerawork, Celda Contemporanea/Claustro de Sor Juana, Mexico City, and Kadist Art Foundation, Paris, (2007, 2006); J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2006); New York Underground Film Festival (2005, 2001); The Road to Aztlan: Art from a Mythic Homeland, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA, Albuquerque Museum, NM, Austin Museum of Art and Texas Fine Art Association, Austin, TX (2001-2002). Among Lerner’s many awards are: the Everett Helm Fellowship, Indiana University (2007); Director’s Citation, Black Maria Film Festival (for Magnavoz); Fulbright Fellow, Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (2006); Director’s Choice, Black Maria Film Festival (for T.S.H.); Honorable Mention, Ann Arbor Film Festival (for T.S.H.); Project Pericles Grant, Pitzer College; U.S.-Mexico Fund for Culture (for The Shock of Modernity); Getty/California Community Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship (2002); Mellon Foundation Grant, Pitzer College (2000). Jesse Lerner is associate professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College. [clear]
Jessica Lawless’s Past Present Future explores the ongoing relationship between violence and gender in a series of outdoor self-defense classes that provoke a re-thinking of our persistently rigid definitions of femininity. Filmed over a month, the work traces the development of the participants’ skills from awkward self-awareness to skillful coordination. After a successful choreographed demonstration in a parking lot, the group takes their act to the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles. Dressed in drag—to demonstrate the range and fluidity of interpretations of femininity—the group performs their self-defense strategies along the median and at the Freeway’s exits.
Jessica Lawless received her MFA from the University of California, Irvine in 2006. Lawless has participated in numerous exhibitions including: Two Weeks Awareness Examining Violence Against Women, The Claremont Colleges, Claremont, CA (2008); Digital Artifacts, Artists Television Access, San Francisco, CA (2008); Visualized Film Festival, Denver, CO (2007); End of Gays, Outfest Platinum Program REDCAT, Los Angeles, CA (2006); Pilot, Chicago, IL (2005); Lesbian Arts Festival, Dublin, Ireland (2005); Homo A Gogo Arts Festival, Olympia, Washington (2004). Lawless has also participated in numerous film festivals and screenings of her work including: Unhung Heroes (Dir. Lazlo Ilya Pearlman), (2002), distributed by Frameline, San Francisco, CA; Paint it Black (2002) distributed by AK Press, Oakland, CA. Her published writings and presentations include: “Moving Image Review” Solicited article on The Gendercator and queer arts censorship GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (2008); “Past Present Future: The Multiple Starting Points of a Video Project,” Digital Artifact Magazine: An On-line Journal, (2007); Black Masks Black Skin: “Anarchists in LA,” KCOP’s “Exclusive Investigative Report” To the Quick: The Journal Magazine of Media and Cultural Studies at Binghamton University (2001); The Queer Love Boat: The Politics of Inclusion in Visual Culture, Panelist for 2008 CAA Annual Conference, Dallas, TX. Jessica Lawless is visiting professor of Media Studies at Pitzer College. [clear]
Ming-Yuen S. Ma
Ming-Yuen S. Ma’s reinterpretation of Yoko Ono’s seminal Cut Piece (1964) places it firmly in the present tense. In Ono’s original work audience members were invited to cut as little or as much of her clothes off while she sat motionless. In keeping with the Fluxus spirit and Ono’s instructions for the performance—Ono agreed that others could perform Cut Piece regardless of their sex—Ma invited a diverse group of writers as well as visual and performance artists to reinterpret the work. Informed by varied social, racial and cultural contexts, the performances were profoundly innovative in their scope, taking forms that extended and reinvented Ono’s original action both formally and conceptually.
Ming-Yuen S. Ma received his MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 1994. His experimental videos and installations including: Movements East and West (2003); Mother/Land (2000); Myth(s) of Creation (1997); Sniff (1997); Slanted Vision (1995); Toc Storee (1992); and Between The Lines: Who Speaks? (1994-96), have been exhibited nationally and internationally in a wide range of venues. As a curator and media activist, Ma has been affiliated with L.A. Freewaves, Visual Communications, The Rockefeller Foundation, Creative Work Fund, American Film Institute, The Los Angeles Festival, FAR (Foundation for Art Resources), MIX/NYC, and other media organizations at different points in his career. He has received grants and awards from Art Matters, Inc., the Brody Arts Fund, the Durfee Foundation, Long Beach Museum of Art, ESTAF/NEA, and other institutions. Ming-Yuen S. Ma is a Los Angeles-based media artist and assistant professor of Media Studies Program at Pitzer College. [clear]
Jessica McCoy’s immense oil paintings of fragmented interiors are reminiscent of David Hockney’s elaborate Polaroid collages. Using her own photographs as source material, McCoy cleverly constructs labyrinthine compositions that weave multiple interior views into intricate narratives that intrigue and entice. McCoy’s kaleidoscopic scenes present keyhole views into deeply private moments that frequently involve lone female figures. Reclining partially clad on beds, the women are fully confident in their own seclusion and act accordingly. Thrust into the role of shameless voyeur—a position we may or may not enjoy—we are free to indulge in the heady sensuous drama played out in the work.
Jessica McCoy received her MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2001. McCoy has participated in numerous exhibitions including: Dreams, Fanny Garver Gallery, Madison, WI (2007); Ontario Juried Exhibition, Ontario Museum of Art, (2007); Jessica McCoy “Recent Works,” Fanny Garver Gallery, Madison, WI (2005); Women Painters, Fanny Garver Gallery, Madison, WI (2001); 33rd Annual Juried Show, Porter Butts Gallery, UW-Madison, (2001). She has received many grants and fellowships including: Vilas Fellowship University of Wisconsin Madison (2001); Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Grant (2003-04); and the Los Angeles County Metro Expo Line Contract 2008-current. Jessica McCoy is assistant professor of art at Pitzer College. [clear]
Informed by her studies in biology, botany and ecology, Kathryn Miller’s eclectic practice is deeply concerned with social, political and environmental issues and often takes the form of joint works with individuals. This collaborative impulse and blurring of practice drives Miller’s projects, making them accessible to a much wider public. Like that of British artist Andy Goldsworthy, Miller’s work, frequently site-specific, comprises natural and found objects—driftwood, pebbles, shells, earth—that she transforms into elaborate sculptures and installations. Miller treats her materials with obsessive care and attention imbuing the works with talismanic qualities despite their often ephemeral nature.
Kathryn Miller received her MFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1992. Miller has participated in numerous exhibits including: Desert Photography: The Other Side of Paradise, Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA (2005); Arroyo Pescadero Interpretive Arena, Puente Hills, CA (2004); Mostra Asfalto, Palazzo della Tiennale, Milan, Italy (2003); Ecoart=radical approaches to restoring the earth, Ecoartspace, Beacon, NY (2003); Creative Interventions, Ecological Design Center, School of Architecture and Allied Arts, University of Oregon, Eugene (2003); Art and Community Landscapes/Area 52, water clean-up project for the Arroyo Seco, Sycamore Grove Park, Los Angeles (2003); Ecovention, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH (2002); The Function of Art / The Art of Function, Kellogg Gallery, California State Polytechnic, Pomona, CA (2002); Water Works, BC Space Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA (2001); Snapshots, Contemporary Museum, Baltimore, Baltimore, MD (2000). Kathryn Miller lectures widely on art and the environment and has published many artist’s books. Some of these titles include: Seduction and Discord in the Frozen Dinner (2005); Nature Vs Pavement (2003); Seed Bombs: A Short History (2002); and Lawns in the Desert by Kathryn Miller and Michael Honer (2001). Kathryn Miller is professor of art with an interdisciplinary emphasis in environmental studies at Pitzer College.
Comprised of hundreds of found images culled from National Geographic-type publications from the ’50s and ’60s, Kelly Sears’ archly suspenseful film The Drift creates a collage of compelling animation. Reminiscent of Cold War-inspired sci-fi movies from the ’50s such as The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and It Came from Outer Space (1953), The Drift dramatically narrates the fate of a doomed space voyage that returns with only a few on board. Unable to resist a mysterious and beguiling sound, the astronauts were lured from their ship, destined to remain “drifting” through outer space for eternity. Combining Soviet era paranoia with the romance of a Greek tragedy, The Drift presents a rich and compelling narrative.
Kelly Sears received her MFA from the University of California, San Diego in 2005. Sears has participated in many group exhibitions including: Against the Grain, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA (2008); Compound Objects from the Spy Who Loves You, Circus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2007); Underground Cinemachine, Machine Project, Los Angeles, CA (2007); The Latest Fiction, Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2006); Fine Line, Cirrus Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2005); Fresh, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA (2005); Domesticity, Herbert Marcuse Gallery, UCSD La Jolla, CA (2003); and Video Scoring, Machine Project, Los Angeles, CA (2003). Among Sears’ many awards are the Director’s Choice – Black Maria Film Festival, Jersey City, NJ (2008); Best Animated Film – Northampton Independent Film Festival (2007); Spirit Award for Best International Short (2007); Honorable Mention – Ann Arbor Film Festival (2006); Russel Grant, UCSD (2003); Waggerman Grant (2003). Kelly Sears is director of production for the Intercollegiate Media Studies Program at Pitzer College.
Tags: Alexandra Juhasz, Eddie Gonzalez, Faculty Show, Gina Lamb, Jesse Lerner, Jessica Lawless, Jessica McCoy, Kathryn Miller, Kelly Sears, Lenzner Gallery, Ming-Yuen S. Ma, Nichols Gallery, Past Exhibitions, Steve Cahill, Summer 2008, Uncommon Practice
- Lizabeth Eva Rossof
January 29-March 22, 2008
Lenzner Family Art Gallery
Featured in Takashi Murakami’s 2007 selection of emerging artists, (Pitzer Alumna ’95) Lizabeth Eva Rossof’s playfully provoking and visually arresting experimental practice includes collaborative performance, public intervention and site-specific installations. Examining social, political and environmental issues, Rossof actively invites public participation from individuals as well as governing authorities in an attempt to engage a wider audience in her opening dialogue.
Tags: alumni, Lenzner Gallery, Lizabeth Eva Rossof, Past Exhibitions, Spring 2008
November 17, 2007 – January 12, 2008
Nichols Gallery and Lenzner Family Art Gallery
ANTARCTICA brings together three extraordinary series of works from artists Joyce Campbell, Anne Noble, and Connie Samaras on the subject of Antarctica, the most extreme continent on the planet. Recipients of distinguished artist residencies — Campbell and Noble awarded the New Zealand Artists to Antarctica program and Samaras the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Artists and Writers Program — enabled them to photograph and experience first hand the severe and almost inhuman conditions of Antarctica. Each artist’s work approaches the subject with differing yet overlapping critical frameworks creating a rich transcultural dialogue that seeks to de-exoticize a landscape that has been romanticized, idealized, and made epic.
With their physically immersive scale and unique objecthood, Campbell’s photographs are formulated to be historically and physically compelling objects rather than images of places or things. Campbell approached Antarctica as something vast, savage, and primordial. She used anachronistic photographic technologies including Daguerreotype, that was outmoded by the mid-nineteenth century invention of silver halide emulsion and which had never been practiced on that continent before.
Samaras’ photographs, Vast Active Living Intelligence System, shot at the South Pole as well as her videos shot in other Antarctic locations, depict the liminal space between life-support architecture and extreme environment. Interested in ideas of speculative landscape, science fiction, psychological dislocation, and the political geographies underpinning fantasies of space exploration, her work frames the paradoxical relationships inherent in attempts to colonize a space resistant to human habitation.
Since 2002, Anne Noble has been considering the cultural origins of the Antarctic imaginary and how this contributes to a sense of place. Her project Whiteout explores representation of the landscape at the point where perception and cognition founders. In other projects, whether from the decks of Antarctic tourist ships or traveling around to the world to photograph dioramas of Antarctica, she critiques the framing of the Antarctic landscape as picturesque, heroic and sublime.
Essay – “The Wondrous Cold”
I don’t know when Taff died…a week ago, a month. It was somewhere up on the glacier. I know that the day before we’d got into a frightful pickle. Scott said it was our own fault. We’d started out in a wretched wind, pulling on skis in a horrible light that threw fantastic shadows across the snow. Birdie said he was reminded of a pantomime set for Ali Baba and the forty thieves, all glittering backcloths and eerie pockets of stagy darkness. As far as I could tell the world was a coffin and the lid of the sky was about to nail me done. It showed up the difference between us, but then I don’t imagine Birdie’s feet were in the first stages of gangrene.
–Beryl Bainbridge, The Birthday Boys (1991)
Much of what we know of Antarctica—the continent most extreme and inhospitable to humans—is informed by its dramatic associations, the wide-eyed wonderment, and the toe-curling terror. Divided, almost biblically, into one long day and one long night, it has no human residents, only visitors, and an extremity of weather that reaches -130 °F. It is no wonder that Antarctica has spawned a host of accounts, both fictional and authentic, and driven generations of seekers to a place that feels like the end of the world. Artists Edgar Allen Poe and Howard Hawks set narratives there and explorers Roald Amundsen and Ernest Henry Shackleton recounted their adventures. Compelled by their own investigations, artists Joyce Campbell, Anne Noble and Connie Samaras—each awarded artist residencies—journeyed there in an attempt to query established representations of the coldest place on Earth.
The Artic has an annual mean temperature of 0°F. The Antarctic’s correspondent temperature is -58°F. Had Mary Shelley been born a hundred years later she would have banished “The Creature,” Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, to the south instead of the comparatively mild north. In a similar sleight of history Joyce Campbell’s series of works entitled Last Light (2006) uses both the daguerreotype—a photographic process that had become obsolete by the time of the Antarctic expeditions—and mural-scale, silver gelatin prints, that present Antarctica’s natural architecture in full Gothic force. The romance of the daguerreotype also renders Campbell’s work reminiscent of the romanticism of the Hudson River School landscape painting, particularly Edwin Church’s The Icebergs (1861), that celebrated the exquisite grandeur of largely unconquered territory. The massive glaciers, vertical and jagged, distorted from premature erosion wear their fissures like gruesome masks. Campbell’s deliberate use of an anachronistic technique makes hers the first such photographs to exist of the Polar Regions. Initially these brutal yet spectacular images can’t help but allude to the “Heroic Age of Polar Exploration” (1895-1917) and Captain Scott’s ill-fated (some say vainglorious) race to the South Pole. In another chronological turn, however, the images focus instead on a landscape that is clearly wounded from the exponential effects of climate change––suggesting that unless we radically amend our irresponsible ways that we, like daguerreotypes, will be rendered obsolete.
n contrast to Campbell’s Gothic inspired imagery Anne Noble presents an abstracted but similarly bleak view of Antarctica. White Out (2002–2007)—a series of twelve works closely configured in a tight grid, depicts the exquisitely treacherous moment of a blizzard when visibility is limited to a shroud of raging white particles and the distinction between sky and ground is erased. In this way Noble’s White Out series recall the more abstract of Hiroshi Suigimoto’s somber and minimal seascapes that by merging the sea and sky produced subtle grey monochromatic images. Inspired in part by the Erebus disaster of 1979—an Air New Zealand sight-seeing tour that crashed into Mount Erebus during a white-out killing all 257 aboard—Noble presents a study of the tones, textures, and layers of whiteness, their abstract nature defying immediate interpretation and recalling 60s post-minimalist Robert Ryman’s ground-breaking and influential series of white-on-white canvases. Taken out of context these entrancing yet perplexing photographs offer an alternative to the conventional framing of Antarctica as heroic, romantic, and sublime providing instead a less than comfortable image. Similarly, Goal Post (2002), from the series From Place to Place, depicts what looks to be a massive capital “H” in the center of a bleak snowy landscape stretching for miles. Devoid of human trace, the goal post is transformed into a gateway to nowhere, a redundant gesture prophesying a future of desolation and doom.
Contrary to Campbell and Noble’s lonesome and immersive landscapes, Connie Samaras pictures the life-support architecture that makes human habitation possible. As a temporary resident of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, one of the only permanent year-round research facilities, Samaras took a visual inventory of partially submerged, abandoned, and operational structures—pods, domes, and tunnels. Grouped under the collective title VALIS (vast active intelligence system), after Philip K. Dick’s 1981 science fiction novel of the same name, Samaras’ images forecast a bumpy and preternatural future—thirty years being the average lifespan of a building before it becomes irretrievably submerged by blowing and drifting snow. Dome Interior (2005 -2007), depicts the abandoned sleeping quarters of one such structure. Resembling meat lockers or morgue drawers, the rows of vacuum-sealed metal doors reflect the snow-covered wooden platform supporting the bright red rectangular units, all under the roof of a shiny geodesic dome. Forlorn and derelict, the scene evokes Roanoke’s lost American colony or the prologue to many science fiction films. Antarctica’s hostile environment is similar in many ways to how we naively imagine the landscape of other planets—extreme and uninhabitable. Samaras’ work suggests that conceit and alludes to the inevitable futility of colonizing such a place. The huts of explorers like Scott and Shackleton survive there yet, as rigid monuments to ambition and tragedy.
In their varied stylistic approaches Campbell, Noble and Samaras could be said to represent past, present and future views of Antarctica. Campbell’s deliberate use of anachronistic techniques and allusion to early twentieth century themes critique the romantic and heroic mythos of the noble Polar explorer and are contrasted with Noble’s bleaker view of the present. Noble’s deadly white-outs and displays of the barren Antarctic landscape reveal how our experience of place is relentlessly mediated and constructed. Alternatively, Samaras suggests an alien and dysfunctional future where the drive for survival dictates a bizarre civilization of transience occupying but never inhabiting. Campbell, Noble and Samaras use romance, mystery and fascination to present works whose exquisite formal beauty veils the foreboding and catastrophic subtext that infiltrates their work.
Director/Curator, Pitzer Campus Galleries
Tags: Anne Noble, Antartica, Connie Samaras, Joyce Campbell, Lenzner Gallery, Nichols Gallery, Past Exhibitions, photography, Winter 2007
Lenzner Family Art Gallery Inaugural Exhibition
Fredric Roberts: HUMANITAS
September 17 – October 31, 2007
This exhibition is about relationships. Fredric Roberts’ photographs tell stories of beauty and grace, work and family, spirituality and devotion. Echoing travel photographs of Asia taken decades ago, the works on display are concerned with the present and its link to the past, focusing on individual and collective identity.
Roberts’ photographs reveal the interiority of a place, its daily life, and the traditional ceremonies that are associated with it. The images shown here—taken in India, Cambodia, Bhutan, Myanmar, and China—engage the viewer through the interactions of the photographer with his subjects. We sense Roberts’s commitment to explore complex stories and relationships with his lenses. In essence, Roberts’ photographs are exchanges with the subjects as well with as the viewers. They reveal the rapport Roberts establishes with his subjects as well as the subjects’ elegance and self-possession.
A sense of order filters through the photographer’s creation of shifting focus and photographic planes. As we ponder the different focal points along the axis from foreground to background, we ultimately understand the visual language of the photography, reading the middle ground as a reference point for the photographer. Interested in the visual noise in the photograph as well as the silence found in making the image, Roberts uses motion to create quiltlike forms and patterns, incorporating details that are often overlooked: complex planes created by two figures; the pain and grace of the stooped laborer; the role ornamentation plays in everyday life in India. His vision is one of exquisite sensitivity.
—Deborah Willis, PhD, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts
About the Artist
Fredric Roberts is a photographer who resides in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. He is represented by the Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles, California, the Andrew Smith Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Hamburg Kennedy Photographs in New York. His photographs are in the collections of Stanford University and the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego. In December 2003, he was a winner in two categories of the International Photography Awards. The awards include First Place for Photojournalism/Photo Essay, First Place for Fine Art/Landscape and Third Place for Photojournalism/Photo Essay. In 2004, he was awarded Second Place in the Travel/Tourism category. His first book, Humanitas: Volume One, was a finalist for Foreward Magazine’s 2005 Book of the Year Award in the photography category.
Roberts is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops and the Santa Fe Center for Photography in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Photographic Arts in Carmel, California. He is a member of the Patron’s Circle of the Museum of Photographic Arts and a member of the President’s Circle and Photographic Arts Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
In 2000, Roberts retired from the finance industry after more than thirty years as an investment banker. In 1980, he established F.M. Roberts & Company, a Los Angeles based investment banking company. He served as 1993 chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), which then owned and operated the Nasdaq Stock Market. From 1994 to 1996, he was a member of the Nasdaq Board of Directors and its Executive Committee. He has also been the chairman of the NASD’s Corporate Financing and Strategic Planning Committees and the Nasdaq Marketing Committee, as well as a member of the National Nominating, Rate Formulation and Listing Qualifications Committees.
He is the chairman of the Board of Cost Plus, Inc., a leading specialty retailer of casual home furnishings and entertaining products. He is also a director of Limited Too, a specialty retailer of apparel, lifestyle and personal care products for fashion-aware young girls ages seven to fourteen years.
Roberts is a graduate of Yale University and The Hill School and is an active member of the business and cultural communities in Los Angeles. He is a member of the Board of Directors and a member of the Executive, Finance, Development, Community Cultural Programming and Nominating Committees of the Los Angeles Music Center. He is also Chairman Emeritus of the Music Center’s Fraternity of Friends and Founding Chairman of the Spotlight Awards Scholarship Program. He has been a frequent lecturer for the John E. Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California Los Angeles and the Young Presidents’ Organization. He has written several articles on corporate finance for Chief Executive Magazine. He is cellar master of the Los Angeles chapter of the Commanderie de Bordeaux and former president of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
Tags: Fall 2007, Frederic Roberts, Lenzner Gallery, Past Exhibitions, photography