Jeanne Liotta “The World is a Picture of the World”

Microscope Gallery

poster for Jeanne Liotta “The World is a Picture of the World”
[Image: Jeanne Liotta “My mind of universes erupting continuously” (2021) 80 handmade 35mm slide projection installation — Courtesy of the artist and Microscope]

This event has ended.

“… I am thinking about any persons’ desire to see the invisible, the marginal, the infinitesimal, and the distant, the dimensional field of all our lives. And finally, where does the imagination meet the document, the photograph, the supposed real…” — JL

Microscope Gallery presents The World is a Picture of the World, the second solo exhibition at the gallery by Jeanne Liotta, featuring a new body of work incorporating drawing, collage, photography and projection that are inspired by and often include among their materials 20th Century NASA 35mm slides of the universe that were frequently offered in planetarium and other similar gift shops.

Through the works on view — an 80-image handmade 35mm slide composition, several single-slide projections on graphite drawings, and a series of colored photographic gels on photogram works — Liotta recognizes that humanity’s visual understanding of the universe is based on its photographic reproductions of what exists beyond what the eye can see. The artist also considers the ways these pictures have been used to inspire us, both positively and negatively, and draws connections among nature, astronomy, and the photographic process, all dependent on light and time.

“In the earliest days of photography Alphonse de Lamartine wrote that photography is a solar phenomenon in which the artist collaborates with the sun.” — JL

The center piece of the exhibition is the projection installation “My Mind of Universes Erupting Continuously,” a looping work of 80 handmade 35mm slides for which Liotta first exposed the NASA 35mm slide images of our planet, moon, sun and neighboring planets, nebulas, galaxies and other celestial bodies to sun’s rays for periods of weeks or months. This resulted in the images fading to an eerie iridescent color green, before the artist applied cutouts of tape, stickers and photographic gels, among other forms and shapes suggestive of planets and stars, to create various fictional possibilities for the universe.

Although grounded in reality, Liotta’s interest in this and other works on view is on what lies beyond the tiny observable portion of our cosmos and its pull on our imaginations. The artist, for instance, focuses on the sun’s power both as a nurturing and destructive force, suggesting that these images that were created with luminescence from the galaxy could be rendered invisible under the relentless rays of our nearest star. Other artist’s concerns are the way viewing our planet and universe has impacted humans: one example is the iconic “Blue Marble” image of Earth, which was taken by the Apollo 17 crew in 1972 — the last photograph made by humans of the whole Earth as seen from space — and became a symbol of the environmental movement of the 1970’s. Or, how images from our solar system and beyond have led to notions about and the production of technology aimed at abandoning our planet for others like Mars.

Two light installations on view involve the projection of a single handmade 35mm slide, which were also subjected to the fading and collaging processes described above, onto floating graphite on paper rubbings of slide projection carousels meant to evoke fantastical celestial bodies. “MapMap” features a slide of Mercury that was “mapped” by NASA using a series of up-close shots vertically stitched together and collaged with a similar, vertical cutout of a red photographic gel. While “She Was a Visitor,” the largest of the single-slide pieces, features the stunning “Comet West,” which was ignored by the media at the time of its arrival in 1976 because a previous and heavily promoted comet had failed to meet its hype. As a result, one of most spectacular astronomical events ever visible to the naked eye essentially went unseen. A final projection work, “Nocturnal,” most directly references the life-giving properties of the sun, with white light projected through an empty slide holder causing a reflection from the graphite — a form of the element carbon — on the deep blue paper.

Finally, “Proceed, Radiations,” a series of mysterious photographic colored gels on black & white photograms, of what appear to be planetary systems allude most concretely to photography as the way we now observe ourselves. The photograms were created by the artist in the darkroom entirely by submitting slide carousels to single exposures to light and are partially collaged with cut-outs of brightly monochromatic gels, ordinary materials that are part of the analog photographic process, yet usually confined to the behind the scenes.

A related series of works by the artist will also be featured at The Armory Show, Booth #P6 at the Javits Center, September 9 through September 12.

Jeanne Liotta works in film and other mediums with thematics often located at the intersection of art, science, natural philosophy, and ephemerality. Liotta’s works have been presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art (including the Whitney Biennial 2006); The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas; Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA; The Contemporary Austin, Austin, Texas; The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Denver, Colorado; The Camera Club of NY, New York; Art in General, New York; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany; Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid, Spain; Halle für Kunst und Medien, Graz, Austria; Cinémathèque Française, Paris, France; and CCCB, Barcelona, Spain; among others. Awards include NYSCA, The Jerome Foundation, The Museum of Contemporary Cinema and The Orphans Film Symposium’s Helen Hill Award. Liotta has been a resident at the Experimental Television Center and a MacDowell Colony Fellow. Jeanne Liotta lives and works between New York and Boulder, Colorado.



from September 09, 2021 to October 16, 2021


Jeanne Liotta

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