“By the Sea”

MARQUEE PROJECTS is pleased to announce By the Sea, an exhibition of photography organized by Mikael Levin who presents his work alongside that of Vera Lutter, Steel Stillman, and James Welling.

The works all have the seaside in common but each in the artist’s own way treats photography’s relation to memory and time. Encompassing a variety of approaches – analog and digital, black & white and color, and still and moving images – the selection addresses the ever-evolving nature of the photographic method, as well as of our understanding of how it is used and interpreted.

Mikael Levin employs a traditional black and white photographic technique. His work reflects how the echoes and values of everyday scenes resonate in a larger historical context. Presented here are four photographs that look out at the Caribbean Sea, juxtaposed with a photograph of a mural depicting the African water spirit Mami Wata, taken on the opposing shore in West Africa. The grouping evokes a belief held by African slaves that, when dying, Mami Wata would carry their spirits back across the ocean to their homeland, thus reiterating the universal theme of separation and exile.

Vera Lutter works with camera obscura, or pinhole camera, to expose directly onto a sheet of light-sensitive photographic paper. The long exposures that this technique requires result in images which render not only the physical quality of objects, but also give a seemingly physical quality to the passage of time. In the images from Venice shown here, the perpetual flux of water appears nearly as placid and intangible as the sky, evoking the mythical aspects of the city and at the same time grounding it in the reality of photography.
All works by Vera Lutter © Vera Lutter. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery, located at 980 Madison Avenue, New York.

Steel Stillman’s Enlargements series are blow-ups of photographs which the artist has been taking since the 1970s, using pocket-sized cameras to address scenes of intimate, everyday life. They are scanned from original drugstore prints for the most part, then cropped, enlarged, and printed over the last two years. Stillman’s Enlargements manifest a coherence that time and distance have only enhanced. The pictures in By the Sea are all digital pigment prints taken at, or close to, the ocean’s edge.

James Welling’s video Seascape combines his family’s past with the histories of cinema, photography, and painting. The film is an homage to his artist grandfather who filmed the Atlantic Ocean in the 1930s as the basis for an oil painting. Welling took digital color samples of his grandfather’s painting as a basis with which to colorize his grandfather’s original black and white footage. The audio component is composed by Welling’s brother, William B. Welling, making the piece a collaborative work between the artist, his grandfather, and his brother.

Image: James Welling. "Seascape," 2017. Colorized 16 mm film transferred to digital video, 6:35 min, stereo sound. © James Welling. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York / London / Hong Kong

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