Christina Fernandez: Inside and Out
In her second solo exhibition at Gallery Luisotti, Los Angeles-based photographer Christina Fernandez presents recent work from the ongoing series Space Available (begun 2004) and Sereno (begun 2005). Continuing her long held fascination with the urban landscape, this new work finds Fernandez focused inward, breaking through the facades she has so often photographed, and capturing the personal settings of her studio and neighborhood.
Fernandez has always worked a dual project. On the one hand, she has photographed herself commingled with the symbols and iconography of her culture (such as in her series Multiple Exposure, 1999 or Maria's Great Expedition, 1996). On the other hand she has steadily been drawn to the urban landscape of Los Angeles, capturing the topography of culture. In her series Manuela S-T-I-T-C-H-E-D (1996), for instance, she photographed the blank, banal facades of sweatshops near downtown Los Angeles. Yet the images turned on a narrative, a short text shown with the images, that provoked a political engagement with the seemingly empty landscapes she photographed. Her series Lavanderia (2003) continued this mode of address; exterior, night shots of area laundromats captured an extension of domestic life in the public sphere, as well as the solitary lives of those within.
This recent work not only continues the evolution of Fernandez's topographic work, it heightens the importance of personal affect that remains central to her process. Combining the objective aesthetic of the New Topographics movement with her own subjectivity is not a simple task, yet here Fernandez has executed her most successful work. The photographs in Space Available were taken while the artist was between studios. They picture the emptiness of moving into a hollow space that anticipates creative endeavors. Sereno takes us outside, to a park in the artist's neighborhood. The backgrounds are slightly unfocused, indicating a tension between the urban space beyond and this bucolic nature. Fernandez's images contemplate the serenity of the neighborhood's name and its gang politics. Interspersed together, Space Available and Sereno show the photographer moving both inside and out, initiating a dialog at the intersection of identity and topography.
Christina Fernandez has exhibited widely, and been a part of the landmark exhibitions Flight Patterns (2000) organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and Leaving Aztlan (2006) at ARENA 1, Santa Monica. In April 2008, her work will be included in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) traveling exhibition Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement. Numerous institutions including LACMA and Williams College collect her photographs.