- Filter Space
- Filter Photo Festival
Join us Friday, May 8th for an opening reception and curator’s talk for our new exhibition at Filter Space, From Now, curated by Allison Grant.
From Now features work from April Friges, John Steck Jr., Eli Craven, and Jeroen Nelemans.
The four artists reuse existing photographic material to create artworks about how the meaning of pictures drift and change over time. Employing unique processes ranging from minor interventions to outright transformation, each artist meditates on how photographs seen “from now” often haunt and fascinate us by connecting with traces of the past.
Image Credit: Eli Craven, Naive Object #2
Some verbs that commonly describe the process of picture making include “capturing,” “taking,” or “snapping” — words that suggest that photography can grab a hunk of reality and hold onto it permanently. Roland Barthes observed this relationship, saying that pictures seem to offer “an unprecedented conjunction” between the image, which is “here-now” and what was “there-then,” the referent, object, or place depicted. His point being that pictures are uniquely enigmatic; he goes so far as to call them magical, because they can pull forward the idea of reality in distinct ways.  But ultimately, pictures survive as two-dimensional artifacts that hold only an illusion of the past. For all of their enchanting likeness to reality, pictures also attest to one of the quintessential truths of the human experience: that the vivid reality of being present in a place is not preservable. Time cannot be stopped and reality cannot be captured.
What this means is that pictures are, like the human beings who interpret them, always churning about in the circumstances of the present. They are always seen “from now,” even if they recall the past. The four artists in the exhibition From Now employ unique processes to transform existing photographic material and consider what it means to view a picture that was made in the past while acknowledging the space between its creation and the present.
John Steck Jr.’s series Lament quite literally changes as time goes by. He exposes images related to his own emotionally charged memories onto the silver gelatin photo-paper that is traditionally used in the darkroom. The paper absorbs a latent image, but is never chemically processed or fixed, so the artworks change and fade over a short period of time. Like memories, these pictures are unstable, and his process mirrors ways our sensitivity to and perception of an event shifts and fades as it becomes distant.
Also contending with memory, Eli Craven modifies pictures of himself and his mother that were taken when he was a child. Metal screens and strips of brass veil the portraits he works with and deny direct engagement with the eyes of his subjects. With his interventions he places a physical barrier between the past and the now and renders the typically nostalgic experience of viewing old family photos into a disquieting process.
April Friges also tackles the passage of time by drawing attention to the material surface of photographs. She creates photograms on large strips of paper, which she installs as sculptural forms on the wall. She then bends and buckles her negativeless, one-of-a-kind imagery into evocative forms that take a slightly different shape each time they are installed. After an exhibition, the paper is flattened and stored until it is ready to be exhibited in a new iteration, but retains small bends and buckles that allude to its reuse. Rather than treating photo paper as a source for reproducing illusionistic, identical copies, Friges photo-sculptures are firmly rooted in the present, yet possess a history. They embrace the photo as a distinct physical object that is impressed with the traces of its use over time.
An attention to the physicality of surface in photography is similarly a concern in Jereon Nelemans’ Scapes in RGB. To create his works, Nelemans photographed an iPad displaying images by photographer Heroshi Sugimoto with water droplets on the surface of the tablet. Sugimoto’s large-scale photographs are serene meditations on water, the fundamental element that spawned life as we know it. In Nelemans’ version, the origins of life and the optics of modern day technology are collapsed, as he reflects on the timeless beauty of a body of water rendered on a hand held digital device. Nelemans ponders the degree to which spirituality, beauty, and the idea of expansive time can be packaged and transported via a two-dimensional image. And like all of the artists in From Now, he locates a great paradox of photography — it at once makes portable some aspect of the moving world, yet attests to the impossibility of ultimately stabilizing and capturing it.
(New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 1980), 88.
Exhibition Dates: May 8 – June 27
Opening Reception: Friday, May 8
Member’s Preview and Curator’s Talk: 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Public Reception: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Location: 1821 West Hubbard Street | Suite 207
Monday – Saturday 11 am – 5 pm