By Aimee Lusty
Katherine Bauer’s solo-exhibition “Of the Quarry Land” on view at Microscope Gallery through August 7th combines ritualistic performance with elements of nature to produce a multidisciplinary exhibition. Recurring icons and imagery are cross represented in a variety of media including analog photography, 16mm films, and photograms produced by moonlight. The artist works on site of an abandoned quarry in the Hudson Valley excavating natural objects as materials in her work.
Of the three media represented in the exhibition the first to catch our attention are the 16mm film loops projected side by side as a triptych on the gallery wall. The silent films explore the landscape of the quarry and include imagery from expanding vistas, close ups of rocks and vegetation, discarded excavation equipment, waterfalls, and decaying animal bones. The films are composed of transparent layers, double exposing footage of the moon over the barren quarry landscape, evoking themes of mythology and divinity centered around moon worship. The din of the antique projectors contrasts the stillness of the surrounding photography while giving a voice to the deserted quarry equipment represented in the films.
On the wall behind the projectors are a series of five photograms produced by exposing large sheets of photosensitive paper layered with found natural objects. The cryptic compositions of these “lunagrams” are ghostly evidence of a private ritual performance conducted by moonlight. The artist mines the quarry for subjects and muses, collecting and arranging natural objects including dirt, rocks, leaves, feathers, a coyote skull, a dead snake, nightshades and other moonflowers. These works are haunting reflections on geology and the natural sciences, creating specter-like images from field collections sourced from a desolate and altered ecosystem in the process of self-restoration.
In addition, the exhibition features three oversized analog c-prints of enlarged 35mm film photographs depicting above and underwater scenes. The images portray nude women veiled by reflections, orbs, and shadows adding transparent elements evocative of the layered 16mm film loops.
Microscope Gallery is located at 1329 Willoughby Avenue in Bushwick, gallery hours are Thursday through Monday, 1-6pm. www.microscopegallery.com/