September – October 2019 In The Studio

Sara Cwynar’s studio is on the third floor of an artist-filled walkup in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood. It’s a small space that’s relatively clean and organized, which is a mild surprise given that Cwynar’s pictures often seem like the work of a hoarder.  As she sits down to talk about Gilded Age, on view at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT, through November 10, a big printer nearby lets out a sigh, as if from exhaustion. It makes sense – the artist does a lot of printing, often for an individual piece. Consider, for instance, the recent triptych 141 Pictures of Sophie 1, 2 and 3, 2019. Cwynar took a straightforward photograph of a ubiquitous e-commerce model, printed it out, then layered hundreds of…

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March – April 2019 In The Studio

Odette England makes lists of the things she intends to do to photographs, including burning, scratching, burying, microwaving, and immersing in foul liquids. It’s usually something “terribly mean,” she says, laughing, “but it’s always done with a loving hand.” A paradox of contemporary photography is that while it grows ever more ubiquitous, it has simultaneously become less physical. The material presence of photography is increasingly rare. Even the tools we use to make photographs are less and less camera-like. The paper photograph, especially in snapshot form, is an endangered species. England is intrigued both by the “thing-ness” of the snapshot, its presence in the real world, and its connection to personal and collective memory.  Three bodies of her work will be on view at Klompching…

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November – December 2018 In The Studio

  Photography has endless possibilities, and Maya Rochat is determined to subvert them all. Even as a student at Switzerland’s École Cantonale d’art de Lausanne (Écal), the frame seemed a too restrictive space for her, and she quickly began exploring ways to push the boundaries of the medium. Her investigations shaped the one-of-a-kind pieces that were included in the group show Shape of Light: 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art at the Tate Modern earlier this fall, as well as those in her book A Rock Is a River (SPBH Editions, October 2017). Her process is never repetitive. She combines photographs that she takes of family, friends, or her environment with paintings, prints, or collages and uses materials including chemicals, bleach, spray paint, or…

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July – August 2018 In The Studio

Looking at Felicity Hammond’s photography is an immersive experience that seems to escort us into another age. The London-based photographer uses the word “infiltrate” to describe the almost stealthy way her work engages with a place and invents a middle ground between present and future, collapsing time in the process.  Hammond starts by researching images of an urban site, often computer renderings taken from advertisements and billboards that show what the site is predicted to look like in the future; she then manipulates these images digitally and prints them on translucent acrylic, a flexible material that can be cut and shaped without damaging the image. She prints the images on the underside of the acrylic, creating a filmy screen, which, as she says, creates “a…

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May – June 2018 In The Studio

  Time turns into space in Sabrina Gschwandtner’s Film Quilts. To make each “fabric,” Gschwandtner cuts lengths of 16mm footage and sews them, mostly by machine, into traditional patterns and asymmetrical, crazy-quilt designs.  “There’s a time-based element to it,” she says, calculating that a quilt measuring four-by-six feet uses the equivalent of 30 seconds of film, “but it’s not a time-based medium anymore, used in this way. This is a different kind of editing, where you have images next to each other and on top of each other. I think of it as a new kind of montage.” Within the interlocking triangles, diamonds, and squares, the LA-based artist weaves together passages of faded old footage, black countdown leader, and stripes of vivid color that she…

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November – December 2017 In The Studio

Mythology, architecture, Roman Catholicism, immigration, and an impressive collection of glassware all play a part in Robert Calafiore’s opulent photographs. Not to mention plenty of patience. His 30×40-inch, one-of-a-kind C-prints, taken with a pinhole camera that Calafiore built himself, are made with exposures of at least 20 minutes; more often than not, they extend past an hour. Over a weekend of two 12- to 16-hour days, Calafiore will be happy to get a single successful image. No wonder he calls this work performative. He finds inspiration in a variety of sources: the stained-glass windows and reliquaries he recalls from attending church as a child; Henry Fox Talbot’s 1844 image Articles of Glass; and Matisse’s practice of repeatedly painting the objects in his studio. Like Matisse,…

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July – August 2017 In The Studio

“You have just stepped into the sorcerer’s workshop,” says Terrie Sultan, director of the Parrish Art Museum. We’re standing on the ground floor of the West Village, three-story studio of the multimedia artist Clifford Ross, who stands nearby, dressed in black, grinning. All around us – and on the floors above and below us – are samples of Ross’s magic, versions of which will soon be casting their spell on the Parrish. From July 16 to October 15, Ross will be featured as part of the Parrish’s Platform Series, an ongoing initiative that invites a single artist to consider the entire museum as a site for mounting work. Ross has gleefully taken advantage of the opportunity, bringing works to the museum that are massive in scale…

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May – June 2017 In The Studio

While essentially cameraless, Aspen Mays’s work is an uncommonly philosophical meditation on the spirit of photography. Through investigations of the materiality of photo paper and its interactions with light, Mays brings a deeply tactile quality to a medium that’s better known for emphasizing surface and image. For example, the bandanna, an object that’s commonly handled and worn, was the surprising focus of a body of work exhibited at Higher Pictures in 2016. Actually, it was two bandannas that drove the project – Mays’s great grandmother’s, with a starburst pattern, and an indigo-dyed design owned by Georgia O’Keeffe. The textile inspiration provided an opportunity to engage in an extensive formal exploration of memory, photography, and a host of ancillary themes. Many of the works involved Mays’s attempt…

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March – April 2017 In The Studio

Printmaker and painter Jane Hammond found her way into photography as a collector – or maybe “accumulator” is a better word. Frequenting flea markets, ephemera fairs, and online sites like eBay, Hammond searches for snapshots and found photographs that catch her eye, not necessarily because of the image itself, but because of a particular item in it – a clock on a table, a German shepherd, an airplane propeller. The snapshots may not be art, she said in a 2015 video for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but for her they are “art stimulating.” She has, by her estimate, some 15,000 photographs in her collection, some of which she’s taken herself, which she combines and re-combines into photocollages that are by turns fanciful and a…

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