Opening Reception: June 22, 2017, 6pm - 8pm
Building on the tropes of that previous show, Pitch explores the relationship between the tactile realities of the photographic medium and the conscious and unconscious contributions of the artist to the images she creates when she photographs “hand-built, sculptural environments” of her own making. As with the previous work, all images are made using an early 20th-century 8 x 10 view camera whose large-format negatives are scanned and printed without digital manipulation.
The images in Pitch are rhythmic, moody compositions built around the tension between starkly graphic lines created by pieces of string, folds in fabric and paper, or hand-drawn marks, and the softer slurries of light and shadow. Semivan builds her sets over a period of days using black charcoal, string, wire, paper, fabric, and carefully selected objects, continually monitoring the scene through the lens at it develops. The elaborate constructions last only until they’re photographed, after which they’re discarded as the stage is transformed for the next image.
Many of the images involve pieces of draped translucent fabric or animal pelts sidelit to create patterns that call to mind clouds and waves and the rippled sand after the tide has retreated. The effect is not so much of motion as of past activity—atmospheric, geological, cultural, personal—and the changes wrought by time. In the most abstracted compositions, the ground is flattened until the images seem as one-dimensional as paintings. Others acquire a depth that has as much to do with consciousness as with space.
The tension between tangible and ephemeral, concrete and abstract, is given psychological weight by the presence of the photographer in many images. Semivan uses her own body as the grounds for the string arrays or draped fabric. In doing so she seems to insist that her images be viewed not as “mere” abstractions but semantic communications—symbolic rather than literal, perhaps, but still transmitting vital information from artist to viewer.
“My relationship to photography is essentially a continuous questioning about the world and my own experiences,” Semivan says of the current series. “These images are the result of a similar continuous investigation into the invisible: an identification and interrogation of potential signals.”
Lauren Semivan (b. 1981) was born in Detroit, Michigan. She received a BA in studio art from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and an MFA in photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at many galleries and museums such as the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography, The Griffin Museum of Photography, The Hunterdon Art Museum, Cranbrook Art Museum and many more. In 2014, Semivan was a finalist for The John Gutmann Photography Fellowship and SF Camerawork’s Baum Award for Emerging Photographers. Semivan’s work is part of permanent collections at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Cranbrook Art Museum, and The Elton John Collection.
Emerging photographer Lauren Semivan was born in 1981 in Detroit, MI. Semivan received her BA in Studio Art from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI in 2004 and MFA in Photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Her ongoing body of work, Observatory, combines drawing, an archive of objects, and the human presence as a narrative tool. Within each image, ghosts of previous drawings create a sense of time suspended, evoking gesture, atmosphere and memory. "Photographs allow me to access the extraordinary, to keep a record of dreams, and to employ the unknown. Science is inherently experiential, as is art making. Knowing and feeling are not separate, and the whole of the environment can be used as a pedagogic instrument. Observatory elegantly draws upon a tension that exists between irrational and physical worlds".
Semivan’s work resides in the collections of the Nelson Atkins Museum, Cranbrook Art Museum, and the Wriston Art Center at Lawrence University, and has been featured in Wall Street International Magazine, the New Yorker, Artforum, and Photograph magazine.