Ebbesen and Ray's Art Show Speak Strikingly in Fisher Hall
A full stop and an elongated moment of quiet perception confronted viewers of Mika Ebbesen and Jennifer Ray’s senior studio art show Suspension/Domain. The primarily photographic works that composed the show were dissimilar yet complimentary objects that forced viewers to reconsider several important questions about visual perception and embodied experiences of time and place.
Ray’s work consisted of a series of color photographic prints, taken by a large format 4x5 camera with a wide-angle lens. There were 17 prints, with several diptychs or triptychs that allowed the image to stretch across more than a single frame. The word “painterly” was used several times by viewers to describe the effects of scale, color, line and form that made the photographs endlessly fascinating. Using a wide-angle lens allowed for a range of illusions and confused readings, transforming the objects into surreal images. More importantly, Ray’s photographs were taken as extended nighttime exposures, allowing her to develop unusual and unnatural backgrounds of strange color that ranged from pink to deep purple and blue.
Domain reflected Ray’s interest in the experience of taking these nocturnal photographs and the transformed images that hold viewers in place. All of the subjects were abstractions of the post-industrial landscape that Ray discovered in and around Cleveland. Nature’s unexpected and contorted presence in the wreckage of an industrial past led Ray to explore the open-ended questions of experience and perception that framed her process and final prints.
The strangeness and hyper-reality created by these images alludes to one of crucial aspects of Ray’s approach to this project: “That [the photograph] is a product of the exposure. One of the things that I try to access is the possibility of other dimensions to reality. It’s why I shoot at night; it gives us access to some other dimension beyond normal visual or physical perception.”
Ebbesen’s work used photographs as finished objects within themselves in order to create a larger conceptual work. Arranged on the floor of the gallery, Suspension was a series of black cubes with square prints placed within them. The subjects of these photos were all women, captured from above in dark backgrounds. Each model was caught in an unnatural and peculiar position so that the experience of viewing each cube opened up a hole in which the subject was obviously suspended in a dynamic and tense position.
Like Ray’s work, Ebbesen’s photographs abstracted the human form in a repetition that formed a chorus of tension and deferment that urged viewers to become conscious of their own vertical suspension. Ebbesen’s concept sought to extend an infinitely vertical time from the unstable stasis reflected by the models. Suspension reflected the physicality of the body in order to explore the contemporary moment of post-feminism and the subject of the body reconsidered as caught between motion and change. It was successful in formally investigating the social body as a collective of deferred subjects and tense potential.
Ultimately, both Ray’s Domain and Ebbeson’s Suspension interrogated concepts of inhabiting a temporal or spatial moment. The complex relationships between the photographs and videos attempted to frame and record these experiences. The entrance of viewers into the transformative moment captured in the work of art was fascinating and intriguing. Both artists were successful in engaging viewers in a full stop, which asked them to reconsider their perceptual relationships through complex and arresting images.