Lick Creek Line
January 25 - March 22, 2014
Gallery Luisotti is pleased to announce the exhibition Lick Creek Line, a photographic series by Ron Jude. Completed in 2011, Lick Creek Line is a photographic narrative that combines autobiography, fiction, and documentary. The last in a trilogy of works that has included Alpine Star (2006), and emmett (2010), Lick Creek Line takes as its subject the landscape, character, and life in Jude’s home state, Idaho. Focused on the seemingly menial task of a modern-day fur-trapper checking his traps, Lick Creek Line is a poetic engagement with western American landscape.
Importantly, the trilogy of projects – Alpine Star, emmett, and Lick Creek Line – were all originally conceived of as books. In this manner, Jude has taken care in considering how a sequence of images can produce meanings both factual and fictitious. Strung in a sequence, the serialization of images merges the real with the fictive—image pairs and groups suggest narrative connections that only occur through collision and association.
Lick Creek Line, as in Jude’s other work, speaks to the primacy of visual information. There is little to no text to guide the viewer. Instead you enter a world of images, and the repetition of certain themes fills out a world to inhabit: crisp light, a man dressed in camouflage, weather beaten wood, snow. Beyond thematics, though, Jude’s photographs also yield a sense of mystery. There are empty spaces, and inexact locations; we are at once within a home, and then viewing a figure through the trees. Lick Creek Line is an open book wherein the story told relies as much on the individual viewing the images as it does on Jude’s careful selection of imagery.
Lick Creek Line engages a broader theme of our relation to nature. We see in one image the half-built wall of someone’s exurban empire, cutting off the wilderness from the settlement. Another image finds us inside, viewing a trophy (perhaps the trapper’s): a mounted moose head. There is an air of nostalgia in Jude’s photographs, but it is nostalgia for the present. We are given a memory of a life lived in the present, though in place we can never reach. Jude’s ability to describe a place, and then to convert it through acts of sequencing, places him firmly in the topographic tradition of American photography. Less stark than Lewis Baltz’s Near Reno (1986), while evocative of the social relations in nature found in Justine Kurland’s Community, Skyblue (2002), Jude’s Lick Creek Line finds its strength in its ability to transport the viewer.
Lick Creek Line is Ron Jude’s third solo exhibition at Gallery Luisotti. Lick Creek Line was published by MACK in 2012, and was named one of the best photobooks of that year by critic Gerry Badger, photographers Alec Soth and John Gossage, among others.