Landing Contemporary Art is pleased to present the online exhibition Traces of Being (December 8, 2020 – January 31, 2021), featuring the work of three women photographers, Nicki Klepper, Kyra Schmidt, and Julia Wilson. All three artists received their Masters of Fine Arts in Photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
This exhibition brings together 27 works, which explore themes surrounding past and present, gender ideologies, memory, and the impact of technology on culture. Though varied in style and subject matter, the works connect where they highlight the traces of things left behind, a link befitting this difficult year.
In times of turmoil, art is an immense comfort as we grapple with what is lost and consider how we can possibly move forward. Some of the photographs in the show, particularly the lumen prints by Klepper, allude to loss while celebrating the beauty that can be found in holding onto a memory. In a year where nearly everything has gone digital, it is a breath of fresh air to re-discover age-old processes like lumen prints that use natural forces, rather than technology to create an image. Klepper’s ethereal works are created by the lasting imprint of fruit and plants that she saved during the pandemic.
This year has marked flight from cities into rural areas where space to walk and breathe safely became havens for our overburdened psyches. Amidst all uncertainty, nature is a constant, stabilizing force that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Works from two of Schmidt’s photographic series included in the exhibition, The Yellow Rose Project and Transcriptions uti
Many of the works in this show exhibit intentional traces or marks left behind by the artist or nature and none can be seen more clearly than that of Wilson in works like Brand New Paradigm, 2015 where she has taken a photograph of her own photograph viewed on her computer, leaving all the smudges and smears on her screen. Moving the focus from the subject of the image to the materiality, she not only alters the secure sense of subject most photographs provide, what French theorist Maurice Blanchot calls, “the transparent eternity of the unreal,” she also calls into question the very nature of the image and its value. This is further explored with the layering of fragmented text over images from her past.
By utilizing these unique approaches of photography, the three artists refute the belief in photography as “othered,” presenting work that both maintains its differences as a medium while proving its merit. In a time when everyone uses smartphone cameras and Zoom calls, this type of photographic work is the antidote to the barrage of imagery we meet on a daily basis. It’s a way of taking something that has been culturally debased and showing that it can still be pure and beautiful. According to German filmmaker Hito Steyerl, the poor image “ends up being perfectly integrated into an information capitalism thriving on compressed attention spans, on impression rather than immersion, on intensity rather than contemplation, on previews rather than screenings.” In contrast, the works in this show remind the viewer to slow down, look closer, and consider the many layers of our lives, the history that has brought us here, and the hope we cling to regardless of circumstances outside our control.
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