SAINT LOUIS, MO.- The Saint Louis Art Museum
presents Catherine Yass' Descent, as part of the Museum's New Media Series. The film, created by lowering a camera to the ground from a crane over a construction site at Canary Wharf, London, plunges the viewer into an urban landscape, seemingly forever under construction.
Yass underscores distortions of space and perspective by screening the film upside-down, and her use of 16mm film intensifies the rich visual texture and tonal variations of the gray atmosphere. Thick fog undercuts the solidarity and familiarity of the architectural grid as the artist questions the ways in which the built environment shapes and evokes psychological states. Related bodies of Yass' work have focused on the institutional contexts of a psychiatric hospital in London, steel mills in Wales, thermal baths in Baden-Baden and dormitories in Tokyo.
Yass is represented by Galerie Lelong, New York. The installation is curated by Charlotte Eyerman, curator of modern and contemporary art. The New Media Series features installations by living artists whose work utilizes digital media, engaging the audience through both film and sound. Descent will be on view in Gallery 301 through October 25, 2009.
Catherine Yass was born in 1963 in London and in her early years lived in Hampstead. She later studied at the Slade School of Art, London (1982-1986) and then at Hochschule der Künste, Berlin (1984-1985). She received a Boise travelling scholarship for the period 1986-1987 and then graduated with an MA from Goldsmiths College, London in 1990.
Yass is noted for her very brightly coloured photographs, a number of which present an image which is a combination of the positive and negative. Many of her works are mounted on light boxes.
Yass's subjects are varied: her early works often depict the people and institutions who commissioned, supported, or curated her work. Later she concentrated on interiors, making a series of photos of Spitalfields Market in London, and another, Corridor (1994), of a mental hospital.
Other series included shots of toilets, steel mills in Wales and Star, a series of pictures of Indian Bollywood stars displayed alongside pictures of empty cinemas.
Yass has also worked with video. Descent (2002) is a film made by lowering the camera in a crane over a construction site at London's Canary Wharf. With a moving camera, she also took a series of still photographs (such as Descent: HQ5: 1/2s, 4.7°, Omm 40mph), resulting in images of vertical streaks and blurred patches of colour.
In 2000, Yass designed the Christmas tree for Tate Britain, and in 2002 she was shortlisted for the Turner Prize.