Continuing through January 10, 2015
As an artist just launching her career, Claire A. Warden, dubbed one of LensCulture’s “Top 50 Emerging Talents” in 2014, is seizing the opportunity to experiment. In this artist-in-residence exhibition, she’s subverting the foundations of photography by exploring what happens when the emulsion of large-format film is scratched, swirled, Scotch-taped, layered with other images and even spat upon; then scanned and enlarged into oversized digital prints. The results could be a mess, but are instead an intriguing study in black-and-white abstraction, with amorphous shapes and vague hints of photographed objects.
There are suggestions of celestial, topographical or biological themes, but the viewer is left to decide, in a Rorschach-test kind of way, if shapes look like jellyfish surging through blackness, perhaps planets, vortexes or swirling seas. The triptych “No. 23 (Origins)” is one of the best works, showing eye-like images and cloudy masses. The many straight, thin scratches that crisscross the photo negative’s surface bring it cohesion, more so than disruption. In her artist’s statement, Warden philosophizes about the fluid nature of defining one’s identity, an idea that gets echoed in these fluid, intangible images.