Mary Ellen Bartley
Looking at participants from Photolucida…
It’s no secret that I am a fan of Mary Ellen Bartley’s work-I featured it on LENSCRATCH after Photolucida two years ago and again this January. This year, Mary Ellen brought a new series, Standing Open, that is an evolution of her previous projects. Three images from earlier series: Paperbacks, Blue Books, and Book Series are featured below.
Her new series, Standing Open, allows us a peak into what is beyond the cover, yet still brings a painterly and abstract sensibility to the work.
This is my fourth series of photographs looking at books. While shooting my stacks and rows of tightly closed paperback books I started seeing some of the standing books loosen up and show bits of the space between their pages. I was drawn into the uniquely beautiful interior space of the books. I began opening all kinds of books and placing them standing open around my house where sunlight might fall on them. This quickly became a project of looking into my photography books in a new way, falling into and out of the books, falling into and out of abstraction.
This work interests me on many levels. First is the sheer beauty of the physical books and the unique formal discoveries of looking at them close up. Among the repeating formal motifs I’ve found are the stripes the pages create, the shadowy voids between pages that read like burns or stains, and the reflections the photos can make on the pages facing them.
All the More Real
On another level I’m fascinated by conceptual ideas concerning appropriation and reproduction in a mechanical versus digital age that the work can’t help but throw into question. Finally what drives the work for me is the emotional connection I have to the books. I’m trying to evoke the sensuality and intimacy of reading and looking through books as well as the fleeting inspiration, little jolts of connection I find in photo books I love.
( Note : the photographs are titled with the photographed book’s title )
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