March 27 - May 15, 2004
Gallery luisotti is pleased to announce the upcoming exhibition, Barbara Kasten – Shadow Traces. Barbara’s Kasten’s most recent series, represented here in full, is an enlightened meditation on the photographic medium and the metaphors of time and memory which haunt its material. This exhibition will include recent photographs as well as large semi-transparent tripartite screens. This recent work illuminates the importance of light (and therefore shadow) at the crux of both ancient and modern aesthetics – envisioned through a conflation of historical photographic references as well as ancient Egyptian funerary artifacts. Concentrating her efforts to that element which is so fundamental to the medium of the photograph – light – Kasten has created phenomenal works highlighted by her mastery of capturing color and form.
Shadow Traces features a set of screens the artist created while working with the Art Museum at the University of Memphis. The Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology at Memphis provided not only the artifacts featured in the photographs and screens, but the impetus to explore the relation of this ancient art to the very modern technology of photography. The screens present the ancient funerary artifacts standing before appropriated photographs taken of the Great Pyramids by Francis Frith in the 19th century. The artifacts leave traces as shadows lain across Frith’s imagery. Frith’s famous photographs, taken with mammoth glass plates, sought to reproduce the experience of monumentality present at the pyramids. Yet there is an aura much more spiritual which both overpowers and is denied in Frith’s imagery. This aura, a metaphysical light, parallels the light a photograph needs to develop. Kasten deploys a method whereby we can perceive both of these lights – through shadows cast and the literal illumination of the translucent screens.
This theme continues into the photographs included in Shadow Traces. Each photograph depicts a funerary object behind which we find a large, atmospheric and colorful shadow cast upon a wall. This experience of aura plays off the screens opening up the possibility for the camera to capture the metaphysical and the beyond, through manipulations of color and form. As Kasten’s statement for the exhibition notes, “light, the required element, completes the photograph” as aura does to the ancient funerary artifacts; “raking light turns sculptural carvings into legible reality.”
Working since the 1970’s with photography, Barbara Kasten is known for her masterful use of color and form. From her earliest experiments with cyanotype images, to this most recent project making use of translucent screens (featured in Shadow Traces) Kasten has always experimented at the peripheral areas of the photographic medium. It is in these spaces where Kasten is able to question the fundamentals of the medium – light, form – presented through thoughtful, beautiful imagery. In these mysteries of the intangible – of shadows and their traces – we discover the spirit of Kasten’s photography.