Monday, October 20, 2014

Erica Baum at Bureau

An array of works by artist Erica Baum at Bureau provides a brief survey of her diverse ways of appropriating photography. Culled from three series – Stills, photographs of half-tone book illustrations; Viewmasters, photographs of the round discs that house the film positives viewed with a Viewmaster toy; and Naked Eye, photographs of book edges left splayed open to reveal fragments of images and text – these photographs chronicle the photographer’s exploration into the place of images within visual culture.

The images in Stills are made by dog-earring book pages, and photographing the overlap. One work from the series, titled The Warren Commission – presumably taken from the infamous report on the assassination of JFK – only depicts two light gray triangles, opposed to form a square floating off center in a black field. This photograph is essentially an information-less image, belying the very function of the images within the report: to inform.

In Viewmaster the texts etched on each disc are of central concern. In absence of corresponding images the words become little more than meaningless quotes and phrases around a central axis. Blacked out squares, film positives whose detail is lost in Baum’s image-making process, encircle the text. Through a process of fragmentation and reconstitution - more than appropriation alone - Baum reevaluates the role of everyday images in our culture by reconstituting them into fine art.

1 comment:

  1. This was well written. I can really gain a sense of how the intentions of the artist went away from pure appropriation. I had a hard time with this show. I thought the sources of imagery were so broad and the text quite fragmented. You approach these issues in the review nicely and present how the image-text relationship operate from the three series.