A solitary flower on a long driveway, a key falling, a door unlocked, a knife in a loaf of bread, a phone off the hook: discordant images a woman sees as she comes home. She naps and, perhaps, dreams. She sees a hooded figure going down the driveway. The knife is on the stair, then in her bed. The hooded figure puts the flower on her bed then disappears. The woman sees it all happen again. Downstairs, she naps, this time in a chair. She awakes to see a man going upstairs with the flower. He puts it on the bed. The knife is handy. Can these dream-like sequences end happily? A mirror breaks, the man enters the house again. Will he find her?
Image Credit: Undergrowth (2006) Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison
Much has been written about Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, the husband and wife team whose sepia toned photographic tableaus took the art world by storm more than eight years ago. In their new work, which introduces color into the palette, the ParkeHarrisons continue to immerse themselves in myth, rituals, and the relationship between man (and new to the work, a young female), nature and technology.
ParkeHarrison came of age in a United States newly altered by environmental awareness, which encouraged personal and cultural commentary by artists of all media. Trained as a photographer, ParkeHarrison did not follow in the well-practiced wake of environmentally charged photojournalists or social documentary photographers, whose cautionary tales were fixed in the present day and did not project a future. Instead, ParkeHarrison conjured a destiny in which humankind’s overuse of the land had led to environments spent and abandoned, with the exception of one indefatigable spirit (portrayed by ParkeHarrison himself). Donning the ill-fitting suit of the Everyman, ParkeHarrison is the earthbound relation to the Creator-the Architect’s Brother-complete with human foibles. With lyric poeticism and wry humor, he is the romantic anti-hero, taking up tasks of preservation that appear futile, yet also lay the foundation for the potential redemption of the natural world. Placing himself within the images, ParkeHarrison attempts to patch holes in the sky, construct rain-making machines, and chase storms to create electricity.
Robert ParkeHarrison: The Architect’s Brother is divided into five different sections: “Exhausted Globe,” “Industrial Landscapes,” “Promisedland,” “Earth Elegies,” and “Kingdom.” The exhibition draws its title from ParkeHarrison’s book of the same name, voted One of the 10 Best Photography Books of the Year in 2000 by The New York Times.
ParkeHarrison’s inspirations include Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, and George Orwell, as well as personalities from theater and cinema. Each ParkeHarrison photograph-which takes roughly five weeks to create-starts with notes and drawings made in a sketchbook, as well as library research. He then builds the set and the props and photographs a carefully staged image. An assortment of original sketches and actual props will be on display in the Process Gallery, a hands-on learning space designed by DeCordova’s Education Department.
ParkeHarrison is represented by the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York City. He resides in Great Barrington and teaches photography at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, both in Massachusetts. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Kansas City Art Institute, where he met his wife and artistic collaborator, Shana. ParkeHarrison earned his MFA in photography from the University of New Mexico, where he was inspired by Native American cultures and myths. As his creative partner, Shana is involved in the conception and execution of her husband’s images, which are created using both traditional and non-traditional photographic processes.
This traveling exhibition of over forty works is organized by George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film with support from the Bulrush Foundation. The DeCordova presentation is supported by funding from the Lois and Richard England Family Foundation. The exhibition is accompanied by the 136-page book, Robert ParkeHarrison: The Architect’s Brother, published by Twin Palms Publishers.
– from the Press Room of the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park.
Skarbakka’s statement about this body of work:
Philospher Martin Heidegger described human existence as a process of perpetual falling, stating that it is the responsibility of each individual to “catch ourself” from our won uncertainty. My work is in response to this delicate state. It questions what it means to resist the struggle, to simply let go, and the consequences of holding on. The images stand as reminders that we are all vulnerable to losing our footing and grasp, symbolizing the precarious balancing act between the struggle against our desire to survive and our fantasy to transcend our humanness.
This photographic work is in response to this delicate state. It comprises a culmination of thought and emotion, a tying together of the threads of everything I perceive life has come to represent. It is my understanding and my perspective, which relies on the shifting human conditions of the world that we inhabit. It’s exploration resides in the sublime metaphorical space from where balance has been disrupted to the definitive point of no return. It asks the question of what it means to resist the struggle, to simply let go. Or what are the consequences of holding on?
… Conflicts between reason and belief are n ot new but never have they been held in such dramatic constrast as they have in the genomic age. The situation, such as it is, provides fertile ground for the artist and it is why I pursue the project with such urgency.
The entry point into my work is the idea of optical illusion as metaphor. I produce a different type of conceptual still life – one in the manner of a science demonstration or imaginary physics experiment. To accomplish this ….
For More Images and Full Statement:
Gregory Crewdson’s Photo Alchemy
Day to Day, January 16, 2006 · Gregory Crewdson doesn’t so much take pictures as make them. Some critics say the photographer and artist is reinventing the genre by using film techniques to stage pictures.
Crewdson’s carefully constructed tableaus generate more questions than answers:
• A man sits in a garage, the door gaping open to a dark and rainy sky. A car is parked haphazardly in the rain, its headlights focused on the man. He is surrounded by lawn turf, rolls and mounds of it. Half-buried in the turf is a rake. His face is weary, a little sad, maybe even disconsolate.
For Audio – Images – Article:
Plot Synopsis: Leonard (Guy Pearce) is an insurance investigator whose memory has been damaged following a head injury he sustained after intervening on his wife’s murder. His quality of life has been severely hampered after this event, and he can now only live a comprehendable life by tattooing notes on himself and taking pictures of things with a Polaroid camera. The movie is told in forward flashes of events that are to come that compensate for his unreliable memory, during which he has liaisons with various complex characters. Leonard badly wants revenge for his wife’s murder, but, as numerous characters explain, there may be little point if he won’t remember it in order to provide closure for him. The movie veers between these future occurrences and a telephone conversation Leonard is having in his motel room in which he compares his current state to that of a client whose claim he once dealt with.