The Center Awards: Curator’s Choice Award 2nd Place: Cody Cobb
Congratulations to Cody Cobb for his First Place win in CENTER’S Curator’s Choice Award for his project, Strange Land. The Choice Awards recognize outstanding photographers working in all processes and subject matter. Images can be singular or part of a series. Winners receive admission to Review Santa Fe portfolio reviews and participation in a winner’s exhibition at Pictura Gallery in Bloomington, IN.
Juror Makeda Best, Curator of Photography, Harvard Art Museum shares her insights:
This year’s Curator’s Choice awards were notable for their unique pursuit of issues related to citizenship and belonging, gender, place, historical memory, ecology and sustainability. They looked closely at the immediate world around them and the people in it. In the lives of their mothers, or even in the interiors of cars, they illuminated a profound and mundane significance. Vivid, poignant, surprising, brave, and critical – from a story of culture and migration through teenagers living in New Mexico to a retracing of aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart’s ill-fated flight around the globe to documents of a dwindling plant species, what united the submissions was impeccable technical execution through a variety of approaches including camera-less images, tintypes, studio-based images, and panoramas. The submissions introduce new vantage points through which to rediscover everything from our planet to the graphic beauty of paper torn from surfaces on the streets of Paris. The strongest submissions were innovative, well edited, focused and cohesive projects that successfully utilized the images as carriers of meaning as opposed to relying heavily on technical flourishes, descriptive texts and captions. What is unforgettable, finally, is the resounding commitment to photography as a tool for connection.
Cobb’s unsettlingly mundane subject matter nonetheless takes us on a journey that is visceral, surprising, fantastic, and frightening all at once.
Makeda Best is the Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography at the Harvard Art Museums. Her forthcoming book on Civil War photography will be published in 2020 by the Pennsylvania State University Press. Her most recent exhibition was Time is Now: Photography and Social Change in James Baldwin’s America.
These portraits of the Earth’s surface were made during extended periods of solitude while in various states of being lost, cold, hungry or sleep-deprived. Having been stripped of basic human comforts, I’m forced to confront the staggering indifference of the forces that have shaped our existence. In this exhaustion, there’s a moment of surrender to the unforgiving and unknowable. When isolated in an unfamiliar terrain, there’s a calmness that settles over me and I’m only allowed to observe as my internal experience becomes entangled with the external topology. These photographs are an attempt to capture a surreal and occasionally confusing glimpse at the subtleties of enormity.
Cody Cobb (b. 1984 in Shreveport, Louisiana) is a photographer based in Seattle, Washington. His photographs aim to capture brief moments of stillness from the chaos of nature.
For weeks at a time, Cobb wanders the American West alone in order to fully immerse himself in seemingly untouched wilderness. This isolation allows for more sensitive observations of both the external landscape as well as the internal experience of solitude. Through subtle arrangements of light and geometry, the illusion of structure appears as a mystical visage. These portraits of the Earth’s surface are an attempt to capture the emotion of the land as much as the topography.
Cody Cobb was named one of PDN’s 30 emerging photographers to watch in 2018 and is a part of Photolucida’s Critical Mass Top 50. Cody’s work has also appeared in publications such as Photograph Magazine, The California Sunday Magazine, Aint-Bad Magazine, MADE Quarterly and ‘Cascadia’ by Another Place Press.
“While American landscape photography has been historically tinged with a tendency to capture, stake claim, or make the land a souvenir for the rest of the world to see, Cobb’s practice is humbler. For Cobb, it’s not about conquering the wild and majestic; instead, he submits to a wilderness larger than us all.”
– Jon Feinstein for Photograph Magazine (Sept/Oct 2018)
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