To further illustrate the point, the curators have organized the work into four sections: Paradise Lost, Paradise Reconstructed, Despairing of Paradise and Paradise Anew. Each offering its own insight onto the issue, contemplating Eden within the multi-faceted contexts of philosophy, art history and current affairs.
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The individual works expand notions of photography, using photographic processes to render new imagery and digital technology to reinvigorate the old. The British photographer Adam Fuss (who spoke at the show’s opening) creates bright kaleidoscopic photograms by orchestrating objects on light sensitive paper while the American illustrator Maggie Taylor manipulates vintage photographs in her fantastical scenery. Other artists, like the Dutch Rudd Van Empel employ painterly methods in creating vivid cibachromes of young children who sit (and crouch and stand) uncomfortably between innocence and awareness.
Other, more seemingly benign images, like the young Alec Soth’s photographs are littered with socio-political undertones that seem to resonate now more than ever. Despite having made its debut in 2006, the exhibition seems as though it should have been organized yesterday. Caught between the imminent apocalypse and a vision of hope and renewal, Picturing Eden provides a stunning mediation as intricate and complex as the times we are living in.
Picturing Eden is on exhibit at the The Johnson Museum of Art through March 22nd.