TRACE: Kota Ezawa, Tabitha Soren, Penelope Umbrico
The approach to concepting, designing, and producing photography books has morphed into new worlds of creative expression, by both the artist and the publisher. One publisher who is continually rethinking traditional approaches to bookmaking is Yoffy Press. As founder Jennifer Yoffy states, “we are dedicated to pushing the boundaries of photobook publishing. Working in true partnership with the artists, we look beyond the book as a container of images, integrating physical and conceptual design to create distinct art objects“. A perfect example is Yoffy Press’ release, Louie Palu’s Front Towards Enemy, a deconstructed photobook, presented as a cardboard slipcase with four components: accordion fold image set, soldier portrait cards, newsprint publication, and staple-bound zine – and amazingly, the entire publication can also exist as a pop-up exhibition.
Yoffy Press has recently launched the Triptych series in an edition of 250, that features three artists with three approaches to the same prompt. The new compilation is titled TRACE and features artists Kota Ezawa, Tabitha Soren and Penelope Umbrico. “In each Triptych, three artists are given a word to inspire the creation of a small book of work. The books are sold as a set, inviting the viewer into the collaboration to make connections between the projects and the overarching theme.”
The TRACE artists each experiment with appropriation in their practices to explore how we interact with images in the contemporary world. The set can be purchased here.
About Kota Ezawa
Kota Ezawa often reworks images from popular culture, film and art history, stripping them down to their core elements. His simplified versions remain easily recognizable and potent, the result of a process that illuminates the hold certain images have on their viewers. Working in a range of mediums such as digital animation, slide projections, light boxes, paper cut-outs, collage, print, and wood sculptures, Ezawa maintains a keen awareness of how images shape our experience and memory of events.
His work has been displayed in museum solo exhibitions at SITE Santa Fe (2017), Albright-Knox Art Gallery (2013), Vancouver Art Gallery’s outdoor exhibition space Offsite (2012), and Hayward Gallery Project Space in London (2007). His work has been included in group exhibitions at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2016), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (2013), and Metropolitan Museum of Art (2012). Ezawa’s work has earned numerous awards, including the SECA Art Award of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation, and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Award. His work is included in renowned permanent collections such as: Metropolitan Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; MoMA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; J. Paul Getty Museum, among others. Kota Ezawa lives and works in Oakland.
About Tabitha Soren
Soren left a career in television in 1999 for a fellowship at Stanford and that led to the start of a second career as a photo-based artist.
Soren’s work speaks to the twists of fate in life that can unhinge us. Whether it’s disquieting images of people in mid-fight or flight in the Running series or in the tribute to panic attacks in her oceanscape series Panic Beach, Soren is most interested in what human beings can survive – and what they can’t. Her images function like invitations to the viewers’ emotional memory. Surface Tension delves into the human psyche by foregrounding the anxiety we navigate in the struggle to adapt to technological domination. Although baseball is at the center of Fantasy Life, the 15-year project is just as much about the mental state of trying to beat the odds and the role of striving in American culture.
Her work is in the public collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, the George Eastman Museum, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Oakland Museum of Art, Transformer Station, Pier 24 Photography, New Orleans Museum of Art and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Her first monograph, FANTASY LIFE, was published in the spring of 2017 by Aperture. Her photography has been featured in The New Yorker, on the cover of the New York Times Magazine, in Vanity Fair, Wired, the Paris Review, New York Review of Books, New York Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and California Sunday Magazine among others. She lives and works in Berkeley.
Tabitha Soren: Surface Tension on view February 7 through June 9, 2019, at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts.
About Penelope Umbrico
Penelope Umbrico offers a radical reinterpretation of everyday consumer and vernacular images. Umbrico works “within the virtual world of consumer marketing and social media, traveling through the relentless flow of seductive images, objects, and information that surrounds us, searching for decisive moments—but in these worlds, decisive moments are cultural absurdities.”
She finds these moments in the pages of consumer product mail-order catalogs, travel and leisure brochures; and websites like Craigslist, EBay, and Flickr. Identifying image typologies—candy-colored horizons and sunsets, books used as props—brings the farcical, surreal nature of consumerism to new light.
Penelope Umbrico (born in Philadelphia, 1957) graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, and received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York. She has participated extensively in solo and group exhibitions, including at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York. Umbrico is core faculty in the School of Visual Arts MFA Photography, Video, and Related Media Program. Selected public collections include the Guggenheim Museum (NY), International Center of Photography (NY), McNay Museum of Art (TX), Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), Museum of Contemporary Photography (IL), Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (CA), Museum of Modern Art (NY), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (CA), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (CA), among others. She lives in New York City.
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