Reception: April 15, 5-8pm

Document is pleased to present Technical Images, John Opera’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. This exhibit continues the artist’s photographic experiments with the cyanotype process.

For this series, Opera has constructed light-emitting instruments of two basic types: tube lights and lasers. Each instrument produces specific photographic marks, different patterns exposed over extended periods of time.

With the tube lights, fluorescent bulbs burn lines into the emulsion based on precise intervals set between bulb and canvas. The resulting marks shift from sharp to soft focus, resembling effects caused by shallow depth-of-field settings on a camera’s lens. With the lasers, the projector lens through which the light passes becomes photographically transferred directly to the cyanotype canvas, recording both the curvature of the lens and the particles of dust present on its surface during the exposure event.

Opera subsequently builds upon this indexical foundation, adding painted layers that frame and shape the photographic material while also creating foreground/background relationships within each composition. The original cyanotype is already something of an abstraction, and becomes doubly so when organized into a hybrid of painting and photography. The photographic medium’s nineteenth-century iterations enter into dialogue with painting’s universalist apex—the “geometric abstraction” of the Bauhaus and beyond.

Overall, the pictorial references in Technical Images are based on the mechanics of light: oculi, mirrors, openings, and binocular vision. Some works directly recall Thomas Young’s double-slit experiment of 1801, illustrating the wave-particle duality of light (often cited as one of the most puzzling observable phenomena ever discovered). In this show, Opera has pared complex ideas into an elemental visual vocabulary that explores the fundamental qualities of light, photographic reality, and the broader field of representational flatlands.

Elizabeth Atterbury

Elizabeth Atterbury (born 1982, West Palm Beach, FL) lives and works in Portland, Maine. Recent solo and group shows include Kate Werble Gallery, The Portland Museum of Art, Mrs, The Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, kijidome, Boston, Document, Chicago, TSA, Brooklyn, Bodega, Philadelphia/New York, KANSAS, New York, and The ICA at Maine College of Art, Portland, among others. In the Middle, An Oasis, a monograph of her work, was published by Bodega Press in 2013.

She received her BA from Hampshire College and her MFA from MassArt.

The Well, The Wall, 2016 Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 in

The Well, The Wall II, 2016 Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 in

Beach Woks (Marks of a Tool II), 2016 Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 in

Still Life with Popcorn and Pits, 2016 Silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Logogram III, 2016 Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 in

Logogram II, 2016 Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 in

Logogram I, 2016 Silver gelatin print 20 x 24 in

Sunny Side, FL (Tomb), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 12 x 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 in

Sunny Side, FL (The Cut), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 13 1/2 x 28 1/2 x 1 1/4 in

Sunny Side, FL (Sunset Hedge), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 1 1/2 x 16 x 2 1/2 in

Sunny Side, FL (Small House), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 1 x 16 3/4 x 14 1/2 in

Sunny Side, FL (Bull Shark), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 2 1/2 x 18 x 1 1/2 in

Sunny Side, FL (Paper Cut / Hedge), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 10 x 9 x 1 3/4 in

Sunny Side, FL (Noguchi's Intetra, Mist Fountain), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 11 x 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 in

Sunny Side, FL (Lawn), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 9 x 9 in

Sunny Side, FL (Big House), 2016 Enamel paint, steel 16 x 18 x 6 in

Sunny Side, FL (Palms), 2015 Enamel paint, steel 17 1/2 x 11 x 16 in

Relief (China White), 2015 Plywood and paint 33 x 48 x 1 3/4 in

Moonlight on the river, 2014, chromogenic print 14 x 11 in

Slow Song, 2014, chromogenic print 14 x 11 in

Marks of a tool, 2014, silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Rake, 2014, Silver gelatin print 24h x 20w in

Ghost Tracks, 2014, Silver gelatin print 24h x 20w in

Black Beach, 2014, silver gelatin print 14 x 11 in.

Bones, 2014 Silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Glyphs II, 2014 Silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Glyphs, 2014 Silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Site, 2014 Silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Sculpture Park, 2014 Silver gelatin print 11 x 14 in

Bricks, 2013, chromogenic print 14 x 11 in

Harry, Henri, Sal, 2013, chromogenic print 14 x 11 in

Blue runner, 2013, chromogenic print 14 x 11 in

JULIEN CREUZET: AFTER THE STORM

Frieze Magazine

April 2018


Bétonsalon & Fondation d’enterprise Ricard, Paris, France

Native to the islands of the Caribbean, the manchineel tree is known in the West by the name the conquistadors gave it. The manzanilla de la muerte – little apple of death – grows along the shore, its fragrant yet toxic green fruit tempting sailors newly arrived from the high seas.

The treacherousness of manchineels is evoked in the haunting, beautiful title of Julien Creuzet’s exhibition at Fondation d’entreprise Ricard: ‘All that sea distance, for the oil filaments of the manchineel to stop our heartbeats. – The rain made that possible (…)’ The other part of this dual show runs at Bétonsalon under a different title, extracted from the same poem, written by the artist. The Bétonsalon title begins ‘The rain made that possible’ and ends ‘All that sea distance’, such that the two follow one another in an endless cycle, like waves lapping upon the shore.

Julien Creuzet, 'La pluie a rendu cela possible' (The rain made this possible), 2018, exhibition view 

Julien Creuzet, ‘La pluie a rendu cela possible’ (The rain made this possible), 2018, installation view, Bétonsalon, Paris

The sea – what it brings and what it takes; what its distance separates and its depths conceal – is central to these exhibitions. The artist himself grew up in Martinique – which is to say that his identity, in part, has been defined by the great in-betweeness of the water, the outre-mer that separates France from its overseas administrative territories.

Each show is a constellation of objects that might have been deposited by a storm tide. Creuzet has previously referred to his whole-show installations as ‘archipelagos’, borrowing Edouard Glissant’s vocabulary of ‘mondiality’ – the influential Martiniquais philosopher’s notion of a global community that preserves diversity and difference. Clumped mattings of natural and synthetic materials are circled with threads that evoke both fishing nets and the paralysing tentacles of the Portuguese man o’war. (Named for the armed galleons whose wind-inflated sails their floating polyps resemble, the transparent tentacles of these colonies of organisms can extend for up to 50 metres underwater. They offer an apt metaphor for the insidious residues of European imperialism.) A nacreous shell balances on a slice of Nike shoe; a sponge, air-dried and desiccated, nestles next to a row of aeroplane seats that seem to have landed sideways from the sky on a new crossing of an old journey.

At Bétonsalon, Chinese-made plastic mats, woven with African patterns, fray like the tops of mangled sugarcane or grasses in the sand-dunes – overlayingcontemporary and historical trade networks, and the circulation of cultural signifiers in a hyper-connected world. Plastics, products of the petrochemicals industry that defines the global economy even as it threatens to destroy it, are conspicuously present here – although, as with the grassy mats and the green plastic beads scattered on the floor like sand-grains, they often evoke natural forms. Ecological questions are complexly layered with social ones.

Julien Creuzet, 'La pluie a rendu cela possible' (The rain made this possible), 2018, exhibition view 

Julien Creuzet, ‘La pluie a rendu cela possible’ (The rain made this possible), 2018, installation view, Bétonsalon, Paris

More than archipelagos, to me these exhibitions feel like mangroves: their trees evoked by the wrapped, vertical, twig-like forms suspended from the ceilings at both venues. They are filled with the mysteries and shadows that this edge-of-water zone holds in the Caribbean imaginary. Two ghostly, prone anthropomorphic figures, both black – a flattened silhouette at Bétonsalon and a mesh-wrapped baby with a face resembling an African mask at Fondation Ricard – recall the horrors of the middle passage, as well as more recent European tragedies of migration.

Both spaces resonate with the sound of the artist’s voice, as he incants songs drawn from the title poem. At Bétonsalon, a refrain repeats over a sparse melody: ‘Il faut refaire le tour […] il faut refaire le temps’. Creuzet, who often uses poetry and music in his work, is at his most mesmeric here, taking his words off the page and making them felt, physical. ‘We need to go back […] we need to remake time’: for all the violence and difficulty of his themes, I get the sense that Creuzet’s worldview, like Glissant’s, is generous, perhaps even hopeful. Maybe, in the thickets of the mangrove, there is a way forward together.

Main image: Julien Creuzet, ‘La pluie a rendu cela possible’ (The rain made this possible), 2018, installation view, Bétonsalon, Paris

Amy Sherlock is deputy editor of frieze and is based in London.

Owner
Aron Gent
aron@documentspace.com
Director
Sibylle Friche
sibylle@documentspace.com
General Inquiries
info@documentspace.com

Gallery hours:
Tuesday-Saturday: 11am-6pm

Private Works Login
DOCUMENT is a commercial gallery located in Chicago that specializes in contemporary photography, film and media based art. The gallery has organized more than 30 solo exhibitions since its opening in 2011 and actively promotes the work of emerging national and international artists. Operating conjointly as a professional printmaking studio, DOCUMENT facilitates the production of works by artists from Chicago and the US. At this time we do not accept unsolicited submissions.