Erica Baum The Following Information February 21 - March 27 2016
It has been over twenty years since Erica Baum began photographing in classrooms, capturing snippets of chalky script and dusty scribbles left on blackboards with her large format Deardorff view camera. Her Blackboards series can be considered the first instance where we see Baum producing in a mature voice, using the framing device of a camera to capture incidental geometry and language in a poetic bind.
The Following Information is Baum’s fourth solo exhibition with Bureau and revisits two of her earliest series from the 1990s. Work from the Blackboards, featuring handwritten gestures, is exhibited with the type-written compositions of her well-known series, Card Catalogue. These works, most never shown before, demonstrate Baum’s playful recontextualizing of found text and her sharp focus for devising new ways of looking at printed material.
Juxtaposing these two seminal bodies of work with her newest, the exhibition also debuts several pieces from her recent series, Fields. These digital c-prints feature blown out images of skies and landscapes: illustrations that are lifted from one of Baum’s most bountiful sources, paperback books. The enlarged ben-day dot patterns blur in moiré at close range, and resolve into barren tree-lined horizons and dreamy sky-scapes as the exhibition’s point-of-view is pulled out from the engrossing tunnel vision of the Card Catalogue and Blackboards.
The early series demonstrate the strength and potential of Baum-ian close looking while the works are infused with an air of nostalgia due to the evident obsolescence of her early sources. Indeed, information indices and methods of data sharing have radically changed since Baum’s first excavations into card-filled wooden drawers and amongst chalk-dusted boards. But Baum’s project was never dependent on the relevance or obsolescence of her sources. What is so powerful about her work of the past twenty years is her consistent method, revealing improbable poetry and abstraction literally hidden in plain sight. Seeing through Baum’s lens, the banal is uncovered to reveal instances of beauty and wit. In sharing her appetite and approach to looking, these works provide much to those of us whose primary data sources and forums are native to screens. Baum’s practice offers a methodology for looking beyond what is given, questioning and deconstructing the systems and organizing principles that sort and deliver the data we rely upon.
Erica Baum (b. 1961, New York) Recent museum exhibitions include Photo Poetics: An Anthology, Kunsthalle Berlin and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Reconstructions: Recent Photographs and Video from the Met Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Reloaded - Concrete Trends, Weserburg Museum of Modern Art, Bremen, Germany; After Dark, Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneva, all 2015. Recent solo exhibitions include Stanzas, Galerie Crevecoeur, Paris, 2015; The Paper Nautilus, Bureau, New York, 2014; Erica Baum, Kunstverein Langenhagen, Langenhagen, Germany, 2013. Her work is held in the public collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris; FRAC Ile de France, Paris; and the Yale Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.
Untitled (Deja-Vu), 1996, (Card Catalogue), Gelatin silver print, 21.5 x 17 in.
Untitled (Vase of Flowers), 1998, (Card Catalogue), Gelatin silver print, 16.5 x 22 in.
Untitled (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis), 1997, (Card Catalogue), Gelatin silver print, 16.25 x 22.5 in.
Untitled (Le), 1994, (Blackboards), Gelatin silver print, 17 x 21.5 in.
Hill House 3, 2015, (Fields), Digital C-print, 48 x 34.5 in.