Shifting Views



September 19 - November 1, 2014 

Rick Wester Fine Art is pleased to present, Shifting Views, the gallery’s second exhibition of photographs by Sharon Harper. Featuring selections of recent work, Shifting Views is culled from the artist’s projects since the publication of her monograph From Above and Below (Radius Books, 2012) and her 2013 John S. Guggenheim Fellowship Award in the Creative Arts.

The complexity of picturing the night sky and the land beneath it simultaneously by registering just a moment of time in fugitive light and fluctuating situations is the blueprint for much of Harper’s latest endeavors. As aesthetically reductive and austere as her previous work, the images of Shifting Viewscontinue the artist’s exploration into depicting lapsed time and space within the frame of a photograph, whether it be a single image, pairs or a grid of multiple views. Each body of work in this exhibition, created in four distinctive sites - Halsnøy, Norway; Middlesex, Vermont; Tenerife, Spain, and the Grand Canyon - is a response to fluid circumstances. The sites share the trait of epic time, measured in geological increments, resulting in a heightened experience of the present. Seemingly clinical in her approach, as evidenced by her titles, which objectively record the place, date and length of exposure, Harper’s photographs are nevertheless visual poetry oscillating between the captured and the constructed.

As exemplified in the series of diptychs taken in Halsnøy, Norway during the time of the year marked by prolonged hours of daylight known as “White Nights,” Harper once again pushes against the limitations of photography’s constructs. Mirroring the natural illusion of the absence of the night between days, the horizons in Harper’s diptychs are similarly omitted, leaving expansive azure skyscapes lit with a transitory glow that ultimately belong to neither dusk nor dawn, reflected in the rippling seas.

Also included in the exhibition are images executed by exposing color transparency film in a pinhole camera on the nights of the summer solstice in Halsnøy and the winter solstice in Middlesex, Vermont. The summer images depict the night sky through light rather than darkness - a reflection of the White Nightsphenomenon, an accumulation of the ambient light from sunset to sunrise. The winter solstice images are done both in pinhole and conventional cameras. In an unexpected twist of luck, the atmospheric effects of rain and snow are recorded directly on the film in the pinhole image, further reinforcing Harper’s plastic interpretation of the photographic process.

A triptych composed of three grids of nine images each, Grand Canyon - Watching the Grand Canyon for an Hour (7 JUNE 2013 5:11 AM - 6:30 AM)is a monument to the most recognizable feature of the American landscape. Seen in a manner that reinforces the Grand Canyon’s vastness by illustrating the swiftness of changing light, Watching the Grand Canyonis a temporal meditation on change and permanence.

Lastly, the series Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, Spain 2 July 2013 and 3 July 2013 Between 8:30 PM and 10:00 PMfinds Harper pitting two magnificent forces against each other in a sequence of images of the sea striking a seawall of cubed boulders. It often happens in Harper’s work that the elements of water, earth and sky lose all reference to their surroundings or source. The Tenerife images have no scale and depth. They exist both part of and separate from the physical world, forcing the viewer to shift views to grasp the vast scope of the work.

Sharon Harper received an MFA in photography and related media from the School of Visual Art in New York. Her work is in the permanent collections at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and The Museum of Fine Art, Houston among others. She has received and attended numerous artist residency fellowships including Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation in Wyoming and the Leighton Residencies at the Banff Centre in Banff, Canada. She has exhibited extensively domestically and internationally, mounting solo exhibitions in New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Cologne and Madrid among many others. Harper is a 2013 recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in Photography. She is currently a Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University.

Shifting Views will be on view September 19 - November 1. Running simultaneously, The Hermès Foundation will present Sharon Harper: From Above and Below at The Gallery at Hermès from September 19 through November 7, 2014. The gallery is located at 691 Madison Avenue, New York, NY.

All works © Sharon Harper.