Now it is Dark
May 22 - July 17, 2010
Gallery Luisotti is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by Mark Ruwedel. Known for his topographic documents of the Western United States and Canada, Ruwedel has recently turned his camera toward the exurban locales of Southern California. Capturing the degraded, fringe spaces of the high desert, Ruwedel’s photographs describe a landscape of simultaneous development and decay.
“Now it is Dark” consists of three distinct groups of work. The exhibition is predominated by Ruwedel’s detached picturing of high desert houses. Ruwedel chooses to photograph those houses that seem to be either once inhabited or incomplete constructions. Yet most of these houses occupy a middle zone, where the viewer is perplexed in wondering if they are coming or going, generative or degenerative. In a second and related group of work, Ruwedel captures abandoned houses at dusk. The semidarkness found in these photographs casts an atmosphere over the scene that is at once melancholic and sublime. As such Ruwedel grants the viewer an image of humanity’s caustic presence shadowed by natural cycles. Such a balance of the immaterial and the concrete is further exposed in the small “artifact” photographs also taken in the high desert. No longer describing the exteriors of unrefined architecture, Ruwedel points his camera straight at the ground to witness the detritus of life strewn across a wasteland. Signs of culture decay to the point of abstraction; we witness specters of lives past submerged in the tumult of roadside scrub.
Ruwedel’s primary interest has been to capture the West as a palimpsest of cultural and natural histories. While his series “Westward the Course of Empire” uncovers abandoned railway paths through the West, his series “Ice Age” depicts sites that merged indigenous inhabitation with a geological sense of time. With the photographs found in “Now it is Dark” that sense of historical time seems to have collapsed. No longer do we find in Ruwedel’s images the traces of a distant past, but the imminence of ad-hoc construction and the detritus left in its wake.