Friday, September 6, 2013

That Which Is: Marcia Lippman

Outside of New York, it becomes easier (read: less costly) for artists and dealers to take real chances.  A case in point was the exhibition of mostly small photographic objects with large ambitions organized by the photographer Marcia Lippman at KMR Arts in Washington Depot, Connecticut.  Lippman is known for her neo-pictorialist aesthetic, an alignment that puts her closer to Clarence White than to Jeff Wall. In this show she went all in to define her position vis a vis contemporary photography.  She hung her own work salon style in groupings of photos from her collection of vernacular and historic images.  She called these 55 groups cantos, suggesting that each was a verse of a larger poem. More like an epic of battle.  With everything from tintypes and embroidered images to French postcards, the show celebrated the many formats that once populated the photographic landscape, but it also offered an in-your-face response to the dominance of large-format color photography and the crushing institutional sameness it has brought to the medium.  It’s a sameness that many younger photographers are slowly but surely rebelling against, on the one hand through Instagram and on the other through deliberately vernacular postures.  The artist’s own images were anything but casual. Rather they were a deeply personal gathering of old and new photographs shot in locations from Italy to Argentina. Clearly the preoccupation here was the classic one of reminiscence, of memory as a complex of impressions and associations, but constantly revised, never static.  Lippman’s “museum” was as dynamic and open-ended as deck of tarot cards –ideal for plumbing the soul and reading the future.

 Lyle Rexer 
photograph, september/october 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

That Which Is ~ Cantos I-V

That Which Is ~ Cantos VI-X

That Which Is ~ Artist's Statement

That Which Is : Marcia Lippman

“I know this much: that there is objective time, but also subjective time, the kind you wear on the inside of your wrist, next to where the pulse lies. And this personal time, which is the true time, is measured in your relationship to memory. "    Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

That Which Is, is an installation combining my photographs with found photographs I’ve collected over some 25 years. All the images, both mine and found, spoke mysteriously to some stilled memories within me. Some inner sanctum was opened, confirmed, affirmed by the texture of a marble statue, the melancholy of a deep forest, the seductive glance from a Victorian cabinet card. These are the things which penetrated me, marked me, and thus are all fragments of the archeology of my past and my perceptual process, which, now merged, have been reframed into something entirely new.

The narrative of their union veers between fact and imagination in visual poems which I call Cantos. The Cantos, which are specific combinations of images, either alone or groups of three, both mine and found, are themselves vignettes, snapshots which converse with my past. Memories, especially childhood memories, shape our inner world. They are the stories we tell to others as well as to ourselves in order to make sense of our lives. They give resonance to what is unknown and unspoken, and perhaps even what never really happened, but has become that which is. Writers like Faulkner and Pinter, Barthes and Bachelard have all echoed Proust’s thoughts that the remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were. Oliver Sacks recently added that ‘ We now know that memories are not fixed or frozen, like Proust’s jars of preserves in a larder, but are transformed, disassembled, reassembled, and recategorized with every act of recollection.’  These Cantos are an act of recollection. They speak to the subjective and ephemeral nature of memory and reflect on the immediacy of our past in our lives; the longing, the family secrets, the textures and stains, the loss, the absence, the love, the beauty, the fears and the dreams, all pulled forward by something in the present, by a physical object, by a photograph, which sends each of us back to our own past. Memory and photography share an alchemic relationship. That which was becomes that which is, and, in turn,that which will be.

I am a storyteller by nature. I tell stories with words and with images. Time and Memory have been the recurring stories in my photographic work for decades, long before I merged these two bodies of images and realized how, together, they emerged as a fully realized visual memoir. As Rilke discerningly observed, ‘Perhaps creating something is nothing but an act of profound remembrance.’ 

That Which Is ~ Press Release

That Which Is: Marcia Lippman  Opens Saturday, June 1, 2013

Washington, Ct. May 17, 2013- Photography dealer Kathy McCarver Root and her gallery, KMR Arts, proudly announce the opening of its latest show of fine art photography, “That Which Is: Marcia Lippman.” The exhibition will open June 1 with a reception with the artist from 2-5pm and will continue through July 20, 2013.

On June 1, 2013, KMR Arts will open an exhibition of new work by Marcia Lippman. Entitled That Which Is, this work represents an entirely new direction for the artist, yet it also connects deeply as a continuum of Lippman’s quest for beauty in the world and within life itself. The exhibit consists of Lippman’s exquisite gelatin silver prints combined with found photographs collected during decades of travels. The various vernacular vintage photographs are in the form of portraits, snapshots, hand colored photographs, cabinet cards, tintypes, and salt prints. Both Lippman’s prints and the found photographs are presented in groups that the artist has dubbed Cantos. These Cantos serve as visual poems or memoirs. At the heart of this exhibition is the idea that memory and photography share an alchemical relationship: photographs lead to and are closely connected to memory. The show addresses the ephemeral nature of memory, desire, secrets, truth, fiction, textures, time. The combination of Lippman’s own photographs with these found photographs results in a recontextualizing of both into something altogether new. The exhibition and the images in it invite the viewer to make his or her own narrative as inspired by the images in the Cantos.

Kathy McCarver Root says, “It has been exciting to witness the development of this body of Marcia’s work. These Cantos connect to the innermost human desire to create a personal narrative through images. This exhibition will ultimately have the feeling of an installation, a complete vision from an artist comprised of over 100 pieces. This work engages with a movement within the world of contemporary art; artists like Tacita Dean, Lorna Simpson, Duane Michals, and Dan Estabrook are incorporating found anonymous photographs into their work and giving them an entirely new context while undermining our traditional view that historical photographs are objective documents.”
Marcia Lippman has spent much of her life traveling the globe (Burma, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, India, England, France, Argentina, Italy, Czechoslovakia among others) to destinations that possess a deep sense of memory, of history, and of mystery. Her soulful, evocative, and meditative photographs resulted in a monograph entitled Sacred Encounters, (Edition Stemmle, 2000).  A second monograph, West Point, (Stemmle, 2001), with an introduction by James Salter, comprised of photographs created during a year in residence at West Point and was published on the anniversary of West Point’s bicentennial.  Lippman is a recipient of two New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) grants and has been an influential teacher at Parsons School of Design and the School of Visual Arts for many years.