For photographers, the Landscape ranks among the most durable of artistic resources – and especially so for artists working in California and the West. As a genre, landscape photography followed a century-long evolution from early expeditionary photography by Timothy O’Sullivan and others, to art conscious images by Group f/64 and its followers. In recent decades that direction has been progressively re-shaped by changing sensibilities and emerging technologies. This spring, in The Once and Future Landscape, the Center for Photographic Art will highlight the work of two young photographers – Ben Nixon and Esmeralda Ruiz – whose images add another layer to this rich history.
Esmeralda Ruiz was moved by a searing childhood experience to envision an ethereal landscape suffused with light, where detail melts away and essence trumps substance. Often the subject of her high-key color images is the space between things — the air itself – while the material world serves only as a faint backdrop. Ruiz’ images offer us, by her own accounting, a memory of the future.
Ben Nixon reveals a darker vision of the landscape, reveling in the stark B&W detail of the material world, where density is destiny. Using 19th century “wet-plate” technology, his unflinching compositions capture the strangely beautiful forms created by decay and destruction. In the Nixonian universe, the marks of time are not only pressed upon the land, but also into the collodion-streaked negatives. By fusing the archetypal with the random, Nixon’s landscapes impart a haunting sense of both uncertainty and inevitability.
About the Curator(s)
The Once and Future Landscape
This soft-cover, perfect bound catalog features 45 images from the March 8 – April 26, 2014 exhibition. Designed for CPA by Takigawa Design, the book also includes statements from the artists, Esmeralda Ruiz and Ben Nixon, and a foreword by David Bayles. It may be purchased at the CPA Gallery for $20.00, and may also be previewed and purchased from our online publisher: MagCloud.