Julianne Swartz: "Close" Portfolio
Mixed Greens is thrilled to present Julianne Swartz’s fourth photography portfolio. In a continuation of her previous work, she creates arresting, poetic photographs through tactile, low-tech means. However, this portfolio departs from her previous work—figures appear more prominently, and the subject matter is directly personal.
When Swartz made her first Bubble Portrait portfolio, fragility, transformation, and suspense played major roles. The bubbles were caught in mid-air, reflecting the moment just before they were about to burst. In the more recent Couple Bubbles and Placements portfolios, Swartz began to insinuate herself into the narrative—either as a reflection or an obscured hand. The Close portfolio includes elements of the first three portfolios, while focusing primarily on Swartz’s experience of family. Family is the most personal subject matter to date, but specifics have been distorted to varying degrees so that each image is widely referential.
Only Swartz’s fingertips can be seen in the Close portfolio. Each photograph captures a tiny drop of water attached tenuously to the artist’s finger. The central fingertip becomes sculptural, often hazy, and sometimes suggestive of other body parts or topography. The background is a wash of color and the focal point becomes the tiny, abstracted vignette of her immediate environment and family contained within the water droplet. Without any horizon, the series has an internal quality. Each photo captures an instant: fleeting, enclosed, and intimate.
The Close photographs are, in essence, self-portraits where the landscape and people refracted in the droplets become an extension of Swartz’s body. Her finger gently dangles the image, literally holding it before it falls and disappears. The final photograph is not simply the document of one specific family or memory of a moment in their yard, but it is the record of an action that transforms the familiar and banal to something uncanny and full of tender emotion.
Julianne Swartz received her MFA from Bard College and currently lives and works in Kingston, NY. Her work has been widely exhibited in venues including the Tate Museum, Liverpool, England; the Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC (biennial exhibition 2004); the New Museum, NYC; The Jewish Museum, NYC; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, LIC, NY; SculptureCenter, LIC, NY; Artists Space, NYC; The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College; and the Palm Beach Institute of Contemporary Art, FL. She is the recipient of the 2010 Academy Award in Art from the Academy of Arts and Letters, a 2008 Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, and a 2005 NYFA Fellowship in Sculpture. Swartz just completed a large-scale installation at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art. 2011 will include a project on the Highline in NYC and shows at MOCA Cleveland and Brown University’s List Art Gallery. A retrospective of her work will travel from the deCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA, to the Contemporary Art Museum in Scottsdale, AZ, in 2012/2013.