Kunstverein Langenhagen

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Erica Baum

12 Apr - 10 Jun 2013

© Erica Baum
ERICA BAUM
12 April - 10 June 2013

Kunstverein Langenhagen is proud to announce Erica Baum's first institutional solo show in Germany. More than 100 of her works were on view at the 30th São Paulo Biennial in 2012. Kunstverein Langenhagen now presents three photographic series.

Erica Baum has become internationally known for her photographic work delving into and mining found sources of text and image. She has worked with subject matter from library card catalogues and books. With a seemingly effortless touch for re-framing found printed material, Baum exposes new compositions, references and potential narratives in her photographs. A precise, economical storyteller, Baum produces strikingly elegant encounters of found poetry and fragmentary abstraction, un-tethered to the artist's original source material.

The Naked Eye series, featuring the fanned-out pages of soft-cover books, has been evolving since 2008. These pictures are so transformed by Baum's incisive eye and flattening lens that they are often mistaken for collages at first look. The series is consistent for its strong vertical stripes of brightly colored page edges layered to reveal isolated figures peeking through parted pages as if being spied upon by the viewer. Words recede into the deep 'V' of the pages, hinting at the form of the original source. The series became more purely abstract in her Volume Two works, with fewer words and flatter, more magnified views. An almost cubist or purist abstractness with black and grey printed geometries vibrate with intermittent emblematic letters or icons amidst the punctuation of vertical lines.

Baum has a consistent inventiveness for creating stunning compositions, both formal and literary, when photographing printed material. In her new series, Dog Ear, as with her previous work, Baum samples from found, printed text. She begins by completing a simple operation: folding the page of a book, or ‘dog ear-ing’ it. Her photographs of these simply modified pages feature squares of text, bisected diagonally, composed of severed sentences opposing at ninety degrees. The images are bold and minimal, inviting the viewer to consider harmonic geometries of stark black lines of text stamped on toothy pages. The magnified scale of these pieces brings out the varieties of paper, ink and type.Baum has a consistent inventiveness for creating stunning compositions, both formal and literary, when photographing printed material. In her new series, Dog Ear, as with her previous work, Baum samples from found, printed text. She begins by completing a simple operation: folding the page of a book, or ‘dog ear-ing’ it. Her photographs of these simply modified pages feature squares of text, bisected diagonally, composed of severed sentences opposing at ninety degrees. The images are bold and minimal, inviting the viewer to consider harmonic geometries of stark black lines of text stamped on toothy pages. The magnified scale of these pieces brings out the varieties of paper, ink and type.

These photographs also have a literary relevance, a partner to their elegant visual compositions, because like much of Baum’s text-heavy work, these pieces can, and should, be read. Baum uses an economy of means to create both subtly beautiful compositions and richly poetic language on the page. (Gabrielle Giattino)

“I consider these objects obliquely as artifacts with the potential to reflect their milieu. (...) In the intersection between the individual and the factory the photographs of these twentieth century items present a voice that reminds us of the individual in the midst of the machine, whether it’s the library system or a mechanical piano or a mass market book, the voice is ghostly, funny and absurd.” (Erica Baum)

Erica Baum (b. 1961 in New York City) lives and works in New York. She received a B.A. in anthropology from Barnard College and an M.F.A. in Photography from the Yale School of Art. She has exhibited in New York, Berlin, Lausanne, London, Athens, Malmö and many other places. A large survey of her work was on view at the 30th São Paulo Biennial. and in The Feverish Library at Friedrich Petzel Gallery. In 2012 the artist was included in the Groupshows Postscript at the MCA Denver (USA) and Cocquilles Méchaniques at Frac Alsace, Altkirch (F).
 

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