|Erica Baum at Bureau|
Erica Baum’s second solo show at Bureau invited the viewer to explore a thoughtfully-curated and somewhat mysterious pictorial narrative. In “Naked Eye,” Baum displayed a series of photographs of the pictures that illustrate several weathered paperback books. Each snapshot creates a somewhat alarming disconnect between that which is contained in the pages of the book and the book itself. The photographs are closely-framed images of the fanned-out pages of each book, flattening the three-dimensional object and leaving the observer to sort out exactly what is being viewed. These compositions resemble carefully constructed collages of black and white portraits placed among strips of brightly colored vertical page edges. Baum recontextualizes printed pictures, taking these common paperback books and adopting new perspectives as a way to encourage the viewer to derive his or her own narrative from the collection of unsettling images.
|Erica Baum, Shift, 2012|
The display of the photographs at Bureau is straightforward and not overly crowded. Had the gallery decided to display more images, the dramatic aspects of the desire present in the images may have gotten lost in an excessively complicated narrative. Giving the viewer an ample opportunity to interact with a photograph like Shift allows the imagined narrative to progress. Baum’s compositions enhance the voyeuristic theme that winds its way in and out of each abstracted frame. Because we are not looking directly into the book that was photographed, and are ultimately unable to confront the subject directly, the point of view becomes a somewhat jarring, uncomfortable glimpse into this printed world of “Naked Eye.”