January 16 - March 12, 2016
Gallery Luisotti is delighted to announce Lago, Ron Jude’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery. Lago is a project developed from 2011-2015 in the deserts of Southern California. This expanded field of photographic inquiry takes the Salton Sea, a large inland body of water near which Jude spent several years in his early childhood, as its backdrop. While the photographs are of real places, Jude deliberately undermines their probative value in favor of constructing a “psychological tableau,” as noted by the critic Adam Bell.
Jude has described his recollection of this once idyllic resort environ as being more like disjointed flashes as opposed to fully formed narrative memories. He also recalls the unexpected hostility of the desert environment, not only its brutal temperatures but as the place where he first encountered death, loss and isolation. These modes of experience condition Lago, both as a photobook and as an exhibition.
In the exhibition, Jude moves us from a lush palm tree oasis to a house bathed in a goldenrod sunset and from there to the sea itself. It is seen both directly, with a boy floating eerily, and then glimpsed behind a sand dune with a de Chirico-esque ladder dropped in. There is an evening blackout with more palm trees barely discernible and then two strays—a small dog and windblown pornography pressed up against a chain-link fence. The presence of mercurial atmosphere is further introduced by two audio tracks entitled Everything that was Ever Something and What Lies in it, which were edited and composed by sound artist Joshua Bonnetta from field recordings that he made in locations where Jude made his photographs. This sound component adds an ambient lyrical dimension to the project. While providing more material context they also insist on mystery, which reinforces the spirit of the series at large.
The inevitability of the artificial desert haven’s demise in the artist’s lifetime is mediated by the blissed-out tone of Jude’s photographs. Their veneer of pleasantness is an entry point but is far from the final word. The ambivalence is unsettling, but completely riveting.
Ron Jude, born in Los Angeles in 1965, lives and works in Eugene, Oregon, where he is a professor of photography at the University of Oregon. Ron Jude’s photographs have been exhibited at venues such as The Photographers’ Gallery (London), Daugeu Cultural Center (Daugeu, South Korea), Proekt_Fabrika (Moscow) and Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago). Jude is the co-founder of A-Jump Books and the author of eight books, including Alpine Star, Other Nature, Emmett and Lick Creek Line. Lago was published by MACK in late 2015.