Sarah Rossiter – New Photographs (Works)

Selected Works

Sarah Rossiter

New Photographs
September 8 - October 27, 2001

Sarah Rossiter – New Photographs Press Release

Thomas Erben is very pleased to present the artist’s fourth show with the gallery. Sarah Rossiter’s new photographs simultaneously function as intricate and emotive paintings, often of natural environments, and yet continue the post-modern dialogue surrounding pictorial reality.

Both black & white and saturated in color, the photographs are firmly rooted in contemporary culture and reference many facets of art history. The image “Eden” which depicts the artist lying naked on a mossy ground and wrapped around a tree-trunk, is reminiscent of both a Renaissance tableau and a constructed diorama. The paradigm shift however occurs in the relationship between subject and author as Rossiter performs both roles. The image is not laboriously constructed but instead the result of a spontaneous private act in which the artist posed nude on a public nature path. And, unlike Cindy Sherman, Rossiter does not employ theatrical personas but instead allows a vulnerable self.

In “Bedroom Window, #1” Rossiter creates a beautiful, blurred image of herself standing naked before a window while looking back at the viewer. This calls to mind the practice of Gerhard Richter, who takes photography as a source material for painting and blurs the distinction between the two media. Yet, this photograph allows the autonomy of the subject/author to bleed through, as she embraces her sexuality and integrates with her environment.

In additional works, dialogues open up with naturalist photographers such as Imogen Cunningham who, in the early 20th century, posed nude for her own camera in nature; as well as with artists like Anna Mendieta, who used her body in earth performances referencing death, rebirth and implied sexually violent acts, all documented photographically. Rossiter fills the space that opens up between these two artists, i.e. between the gravity of nature and the material self. There is a resistance to the self becoming usurped by nature and yet a co-mingling of the two when the artist extends herself through the environment and out onto the photographic surface for us to examine.

Ultimately the show raises a surrealist question of sorts, “Where do we fit in to this environment while existing in multiple realities and where does autonomy become a contradiction?”

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