The present exhibition And brings together two recent, ongoing photographic series by Los Angeles artist Katrina Umber in her first solo show at Charlie James Gallery. As the title “And” suggests, the space of the photograph is continually proposed in these series as a means of conjunction, a conjoining or combining of images. Images are paired off or layered on top of one another, two-ness and separation giving way to a questioning of the notion of relationality itself, its logical procedures and ontological implications.
Enlarged black-and-white split-frame photographs comprise the Included Middle series, in which the space of one standard negative is divided in half to yield a twofold image. Sequential images are inexorably coupled by the camera, diptychs that loosely evoke the private narratives of everyday life as well as the formal language of art history: the release of white fluid from a sexual organ, then black out; the luminous appearances of a Suprematist-like square and acute triangle on shadowed walls; Vija Celmins–esque images of sunlight falling on agitated waters. Alluding to Aristotle’s Law of the Excluded Middle, which states that every proposition or its negation must be true, this series suspends the structure of logic to shift the inquiry into truth towards the ontological. Each photograph in this series not only presents the capture and juxtaposition of two different moments, but also represents the passage through space and time lived in between. Thus, each photograph appears to affirm the presence of both the paired images as well as what those two images are not—the passage or void created by and in between the two. The principle of the “Included Middle,” then, would simply be the affirming of presence as true in and of itself: presence is truth.
In contrast to the coupled images in the Included Middle series, the photographs in Soft Mirrors entail images that overlie and eat into others. The photographs in this series have been dually processed: black-and-white negatives are printed on chromogenic paper and then these prints are soaked in dyed water. In the resulting photographs, faded images of indoor and outdoor scenes give way to unexpected patterns and vibrant eruptions of color. Cobalt and ultramarine blues, violets, vermillion, crimson, and a range of siennas leech away the referential and indexical to reveal the unpredictable yet systematic process of erosion the paper underwent in its watery bath. The immutable laws of chemistry dictate the dissolution and destruction of one image that leads to the efflorescent emergence, a coming into being, of yet another.
Text by Kavior Moon
Katrina Umber (b. 1979. Minneapolis, MN). She received her BFA from Art Center College of Design (2004) and MFA from University of California Los Angeles (2010). She also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2011). Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally; most recently in the group show FLICKER curated by Jan Tumlir at Control Room Los Angeles. Her work is included in the Stewart and Lynda Resnik Collection and has been profiled in publications including the current Fabrik. She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.