Let There Be Light: The Black Swans of Ellen Carey opens as a visual vade mecum at Galerie Miranda
in spring 2022. A première for her new bodies of work, and the artist's second personal exhibition at Galerie Miranda, Ellen Careys handbook guides us through photographys nearly two centuries arc of light, photogram, colour and Polaroid as seen in her constantly intersecting practices Photography Degree Zero (Polaroid) and Struck by Light (darkroom).
Crush & Pull with Rollbacks & Penlights
For the 21st century, for Paris, the City of Light, Ellen Carey brings her arc into the future with Crush & Pull with Rollbacks & Penlights, a completely new 21st century photo-object from Polaroids monumental negative, which allows Carey, its camera operator, to reposition 'light drawing' anew. It highlights Polaroid and its huge 20 X 24 camera as one of the mediums 20th century game changers. The Black Swan theory sees unexpected events become game changers in this, the global world, as it is, now. Careys performance in the black box of the darkroom folding, crushing, creasing, and nothing seen until it is finished abounds with affinities to the Surrealist drawing game of the exquisite corpse.
For Let There Be Light: The Black Swans of Ellen Carey, the artist introduces another new photo-object, the Finitogram. Here, she gathered abandoned sheets of photographic paper bearing random chemical marks striking a pose as light drew. She sees the once-hidden, latent image become visible. Like her practice in Polaroid, the object begins at the zero of an unknown time, made somewhere in the void of the dark room, and left behind unfinished. However the object may have travelled through Dada, Surrealism, and Duchamps ready-made visitations; her re-invented ready made now presents as a new self. Ellen Careys Finitogram, from the Italian non finito for incomplete works of art, re-interprets the photogram, its legacy, and its practitioners. It reverses the circle of time in its image-making. The mediums picture signs in landscape, portrait, and still life, and individuals names do not exist. In their places we have a 19th century term camera operator with the unnamed, unknown Anon new companions in the category of vernacular photography'.
Ellen Careys Finitogram project is a portfolio of light sensitive, 10x8 inch pictures of nothing that began in conditions like those in Careys sightless, color darkroom based in time, total darkness, and invisibility. These nonimages are unpredictable as they change in palette and enlarge in form. As the chemical clock ticks, this new getting ready-to-be-made from its once unfinished state, by time and by light, unfolds, becomes Finitogram.
The historic photogram re-named as ready-made adds to Careys handbook guide through photographys nearly two centuries arc of light, photogram, colour and Polaroid. Photography Degree Zero (the artist's Polaroid practice) and Struck by Light (her darkroom practice) visually consult Talbot, Daguerre, and Anna Atkins, the powerhouse tripod of 19th century game changers. Talbots negative-to-positive duality of the photogram-asimage is doubled, while Daguerre is mirrored in the glossy polish of Polaroids pristine surface and crisp picture. Talbots soft-focus, non-color compositions in blurry outlines see lights shadow while Prussian blue sees colouras light transformed in Anna Atkins cyanotype images. Each of them used light with light-sensitive processes to create their images all unique pictures, all-in-one totalities originating visual impact for which the gestalt is cest.
The Black Swan theory sees unexpected events become game changers in this global world as it is now. Careys performance in the black box of the darkroom folding, crushing, creasing, picturing nothing until finished, abounds with affinities to the Surrealist drawing game of exquisite corpse. When light becomes visible the object speaks. Ellen Careys photographic objects say craquelure, parabola, hue, abstract, process, minimal, photogram, black swans, light, beauty, color, wonder, invention, innovation. cFor Ellen Carey and for us, this is the language of Crush & Pull with Rollbacks & Penlights, and the language of Finitogram
Ellen Carey's experimental Polaroid practice dates from 1983, when the Polaroid Artists Support Program invited her to work at the Polaroid 20X24 Studio. There, she created her Neo-Geo Self-Portraits (1984-87) followed by her stacked installations Abstractions (1988-95). Her pioneering Pull (1996) and Rollback (1997) initiated her practice Photography Degree Zero (1996-2022), that is continued today with her latest body of Polaroid work, Crush & Pull. Ellen Careys work has been the subject of 60 one-person exhibitions and seen in hundreds of group exhibitions, found in the permanent collections of art and photography museums including: The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, George Eastman Museum, Norton Museum of Art, Wadsworth Atheneum, New Britain Museum of American Art, Museum at the Chicago Art Institute, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of Art, Vassar College, Yale University Art Gallery and Centre Pompidou and Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF) in Paris. Corporate and private collections include JP Morgan Chase Collection, The LeWitt Foundation and the Sir Elton John Collection. In 2021, her work featured in the exhibition organized by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France at the Grand Palais in Paris, entitled 'Noir et Blanc: une ésthétique de la photographie'.