Michael Dawson Gallery
535 N. Larchmont Blvd , Los Angeles, CA 90004
November 9, 2007 - January 12, 2008
As Far as the Eye Can See
by Nicholas Grider
Criminally underrecognized in her native LA, Brooke’s recent solo show of photographs and videos in the gallery of the Michael Dawson bookstore in Hollywood is a good illustration of two things: the first thing is that Brooke is a smart and sophisticated artist even when working with subject matter as benign as hunting towers in Germany; the second thing is that it’s a shame that Los Angeles can’t seem to support sophisticated and thoughtful contemporary photo/media work.
Posted by Nicholas Grider
The show itself is very simple in form. Two enormous color photographs, “portraits” of two of the viewing platforms at either end of a field, dominate the show visually. They are fascinating not just as examples of architecture designed to blend into the natural landscape but also for the way they set the stage for an extended exploration of the relationships between viewing, hunting, and gender. The other works in the show are two DVD video loops, one shot from each viewing platform, a smaller photograph that shows a series of platforms lined up in a row, and four smaller, new prints that digitally collage photographs into a kind of mental map of what’s being navigated when a (usually male) hunter builds and than climbs up into the platforms, attempting at once to dominate and blend in to the surrounding environment.
Or, to put things more simply, by just presenting the different kinds of view available to her as a photographer, Brooke opens up a number of questions both about the idea of “viewing” and how it relates to photography itself. While the actual visual beauty of the subject is often downplayed or neglected in much conceptual photography, Brooke’s pieces are as visually inviting and lush as they are thought-provoking, easily luring the viewer into the patience required to let meaning start to accrue between the photographs, videos, and photographic “maps.”
The videos are compelling for offering up verdant views of a summertime landscape in Germany. Barely anything “happens” in front of the lens. The real heart of the project is not the photos of the platforms themselves, or the nearly-static videos shot from them, but the index-like map-prints on the back wall. These four maps bring together the mass and implied dominance of the platforms with the half tense, half-bored waiting involved in the videos (which echo a hunter’s wait for visible evidence of prey) in a way that suggests the human activity at the heart of the platform builders’ attempts to master the surrounding wilderness by literally rising above and overseeing it. The “map” prints are collaged digital photos that show details the other work overlooks, whether it’s a collaged-together picture of the horizon lost in the videos or a picture of the artists’ dog, waiting patiently while Brooke surveys, almost but not quite like a hunter, the sweep of everything before her. These prints and the issues of scale and duration they raise in regard to the other work provide much to think about in terms of how “viewing” can be viewed, and they do so in an engaging way.
- Nicholas Grider
(*Images, from top to bottom: Kaucyila Brooke, Viewing Platforms, November 9, 2007 - January 12, 2008; Michael Dawson Gallery, Untitled (otcf), color photograph, Courtesy of Artist and Michael Dawson Gallery. Kaucyila Brooke, Viewing Platforms, November 9, 2007 - January 12, 2008; Michael Dawson Gallery, Untitled (ntcf), color photograph, Courtesy of Artist and Michael Dawson Gallery. Kaucyila Brooke, Viewing Platforms, November 9, 2007 - January 12, 2008; Michael Dawson Gallery, Untitled (tv), color photograph collage, Courtesy of Artist and Michael Dawson Gallery. Kaucyila Brooke, Viewing Platforms, November 9, 2007 - January 12, 2008; Michael Dawson Gallery, Untitled (otcf), video, Courtesy of Artist and Michael Dawson Gallery.)