As the end of April approaches, GOLDEN is making final preparations for their inclusion in this year’s Art Chicago. The gallery’s booth (12-252) will feature new works by Mike Andrews, Pamela Fraser, and Jessica Labatte. The night that the fair opens to the public, Friday, April 30th, GOLDEN will host an opening reception and catalog release for Jessica Labatte’s first exhibition with the gallery, Lazy Shadows.
Jessica Labatte's photographs are formalist explorations of everyday objects and materials that engage the subjectivity and experiential qualities of matter. Her juxtapositions of content, form, and color imbue dynamism into the still life tradition in their ability to place a still object into a state of becoming. In this state of action, the images have an autopoietic, or self-generating visual rhythm established within the composition's architecture. Perspectival manipulations created with the large format camera shift and tilt the picture plane, creating a confusing sense of depth and scale. In Linear Flexing (2010), white Styrofoam cubes wrapped in plastic bags prop up red Plexiglas rods. The simple, seemingly high-Modernist composition appears to bend the rigid red rods. Like so many of Labatte’s works, we forget that we are engaging with a photographic image, yet tiny details put us back in check. For example, in this same image three small yellow cubes--sugarcoated gummy candies-- appear as flat collaged squares due to the way they mysteriously transmit light. Upon closer
inspection we see sly little shadows slivering out behind them, pulling us back into the realm of photography. Labatte’s images are engrossing in their trickery as they play with the illusionistic tendencies of photography and its potential to simultaneously reveal truths and spin falsehoods. By creating a tension between accurate representations of form and deceiving attempts at flatness, these images lead us through a strange questioning
of what it is we are actually seeing and how it was created. Labatte’s mind-bending forms result in pleasurable questioning that provokes an active looking.
Looking back to Dutch still life paintings, Labatte’s photographs present objects for contemplation on the social, political and technics of the time. Her objects come from the street as much as from her studio--representations of the discarded and the treasured. However these images do not engage in the creation of specific symbolisms, as the objects in her pictures never stand for something else. They are content to be themselves, formally captivating us through a chaos of sensations while allowing a wide range of references to
float in and out of the viewer’s consciousness. The Alignment (2010), an image composed entirely of reflections of objects positioned outside the frame reflected back to the camera via a complex mirror system, becomes a real life cut-and-paste of detritus: a pizza box & pink foam, broken bathroom sink & an oversized Koosh ball. These fragments act as catalysts, provoking questions about how to reconcile our subjectivity with the objects
surrounding us. And while the images foreground human presence as much as they play archaeologist for contemporary consumer culture, they also engage photography’s potential as the link between physical and immaterial worlds.
The opening reception and catalog release takes place on Friday, April 30, 7 – 10pm. The 48-page catalog features an essay by Shannon Stratton (threewalls) and highlights Labatte’s work from 2008 – 2010.