Since its inception, photography has been used not only as a medium to present the world in actuality, but also as a tool to convey a potential, imagined world. As early as the Civil War, or with Bayard’s “…Drowned Man” image in 1840, photographers have carefully and meticulously organized a space and set a stage to create pictures that go beyond technical or decorative imagery, and created narratives and realities through the imagination and innovation of their vision. The photographers in this show have constructed or designed spaces to present their individual conceptions on various themes of human experience. These pictures underscore our relationship to the passing of time and to the heightened realities of a familiar space. They often juxtapose nature with abstractions of space and the insertion of unexpected objects and can also set a stage to document the aging and deterioration of a structure. These photographers creatively engineer space differently, establishing narratives uniquely their own, but also with common threads.
Stephen Wilkes’s meticulous process of shooting from a fixed camera for up to 30 hours create the heightened ability of seeing day and night in one image. This process includes the painstaking selection of thousands of images to create a work that extols the phenomenon of life. Wilkes’s pictures montage the seemingly random events that happen throughout the day with a longer, more complex matrix involving human drama and set within complex spaces. Wilkes’s images capture ephemeral human moments, suspends them, bringing us closer to another possible reality. The work also studies the impact citizens have on their surroundings and vice versa, the cycle of light and on the grandeur of the landscape; a collection of human experiences.
Andre Lichtenberg’s landscapes present us with abstracted cityscapes. The photographer gives careful consideration to the individual placement of each building. His images have a texture that feels almost palpable. Lichtenberg’s rejection of traditional landscape imagery, finding it too literal as a record of the cityscape or landscape, motivates him to present an abstraction of the places he photographs. His composite pictures allow him more freedom in inscribing the individuality of the separate buildings and how they are cumulatively organized. To further abstract the pictures, Lichtenberg inverts the colors and constructs the cityscapes using methods bridging science and art. His work also pushes the boundaries of the medium with exposure light lines drawn around structures, bodies of water that appear as textured masses of color, and perspectives that are heightened and inverted to reflect a crafted place between unconstrained amusement and restricted precision.
Thus, he aptly titles the new work “Impossible Utopias”.
Karen Knorr, inspired by Conceptual art and Magical Realism, presents the viewer with the illusion of animals inside elaborate and luxuriant interiors. Knorr’s work conjures up the symbolism of parables and mythologies; anthropomorphic tales of morality and cultural significance that create a subtext as individual tales for each image. Knorr investigates the power and ancestry of these interiors, institutions of national identity and history, and the connotative and instructive characteristics we ascribe to animals by visualizing in the picture something unique and original to her; she shoots the architectural interiors and animals separately, joining them in post-production. What if our domestic tranquility was interrupted by the chaos of an animal invasion? Her pictures call into questions our assumptions of how we live in and use domestic spaces as well as how we relate to the greater world of nature.
Massimo Listri is a Renaissance man whose trained eye for classical architecture and historical preservation shows us the grand harmonies and achievements of western architecture but that can also intimately display their wear and age. Listri’s work beautifully presents the interior architecture of libraries, palaces, villas, museums, and castles, capturing the magnificence and energy of their ambitious designs. Listri removes any living subject from the image and concentrates only on the built environment, allowing for a focus on the positive qualities of the interior space. Listri’s photography is so seductive in the use of natural light, long exposures and a detailed depth of field, that they achieve an equilibrium and produce a feeling of grandeur and a sense of serenity and tranquility. This concentration also reveals to the viewer, the hidden particularities of each space the photographer encounters, noting the imperfections and deterioration caused by time and history further highlighting each structure’s unique character. Listri’s work illustrates the beauty and successes of classical architecture and are compelling because of his fascination with the form and interior spaces, setting a stage to remind the viewer of the histories and human dramas both personal and collective that these structures contained.
‘Constructed Space’ is a show about space, architecture, human inventiveness, and how we have historically viewed the world. It is about the adaptive use of space as well as how photographers handle three or even four dimensions and present bodies of work that are both unique, inventive, expansive, as well as aesthetically, and intellectually compelling.
Architecture has historically fascinated photographers because its purpose is to give structure to the world. It is a pleasure to present a photographic exhibition where the concerns and interests of architecture are both monumental and human; where time and space become the ultimate motivations to produce beautiful and fascinating images.