RINGLING UNDERGROUND: PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE COURTYARD
Thursday, October 1, 2015: 8 – 11 p.m.

All who have experienced The Ringling museum’s courtyard can agree that an appropriate adjective to describe the space might be “grandiose.” When exhibiting against a backdrop of pink marble and bronze statues, towering, three-dimensional artworks tend to attract the most attention from visitors. Perhaps this is why photography has been so infrequently exhibited in past seasons. For the October 1 Ringling Underground, I’ve chosen three contemporary female photographers to exhibit a series of their choice: Noelle McCleaf, Leslie Reed, and Eska Palmer. Separately, the three series have dissimilar aesthetics. Together, they show a glimpse of contemporary photography emerging from Florida artists at the present time.


NOELLE MCCLEAF

 

Sailors Valentine
Noelle McCleaf

“Objects have the capacity to hold our fascination, and in collecting them we fulfill a very primal urge to gather, curate, and organize our space in the world.

My mother is a collector of all things found in the natural world: shark’s teeth, stones, feathers and fish bones, or seashells found at the edge of the sea.I’m fond of old family photographs, adopted ancestors found in dusty shoeboxes, antiques and oddities, cameras and tchotchkes. As a child, I held my first collections dearly, as do many children, and I’ve continued this collective urge into my adulthood. These collaborative constructions bring together our collections and our collective history in compositions of sand and stone. Elaborate totems hold together temporal objects in a dark abyss of time, memory, and photographs.”


 

LESLIE REED

Leslie Reed
Leslie Reed

“BlackStar is a portal into shifting crime scenes, subverting the desire for safe distance by corrupting the lines between victim, perpetrator, homicide detective, and witness.
The exhibition invites and denies gazing upon the aftermath of violent death in still form, and provides a touch of gallows humor and spectacle through deliberately constructed scenes, interventions on the film surface, and performance.

Anonymous crime scene photographs shot in New York and LA in the 1920’s, and historic projection techniques such as the magic lantern originally inspired the exhibition.

Other sources include photographs by Les Krims, Andy Warhol’s Death and Destruction Series, Ana Mendieta’s work involving bodily traces, news footage, and countless crime shows and horror movies.”


 

ESKA PALMER

Eska Palmer
Eska Palmer

“The Props Assist the House is a chromogenic color darkroom photographic series that explores the transformative relationship between the creator and the creation. Countless hours over two years were spent shooting film and processing in the darkroom. Every moment was meditative and thoughtful. After developing the film, I’d anxiously rush to my darkroom to create contact sheets, laying the negatives over light sensitive paper and exposing them to light. I’d choose the negatives to print and begin the color testing process. All done without a safe light- in complete darkness. I’d set up my darkroom and by the series-end, I felt like a bat never blind. I knew where everything was solely by touch. I would quietly spend these hours alone, with my love for the process to keep me company. I’d always take my dinner at sunset, and due to lack-of-light all day, the colors of the setting sun were beyond glorious. I thought about everyone who sat at the bench were I sat eating; lovers kissing late at night, a homeless man smoking a cigarette, an elderly woman taking a nostalgic moment on a night walk. The bench had life. I began to ponder about all who lived in my apartment before the landlord painted over the walls. More and more ideas blossomed. I would lie awake at night and envision the house coming alive. All of these man made constructions we spend our lives around. All these things we create to make ourselves comfortable, and also all of the things we don’t design for beauty- but necessity. A home.

Once I figured out the math on each of the negatives’ color frequency, I would expose my final edition. Pulling out hand-built wooden frames, I’d delicately slip in the large piece of paper. The black border you see was created by an effect I call “masking”. I put an opaque cut out of cardboard over the light sensitive paper; the square hole where the image would be – the only part that would be exposed to light. After I exposed the square area with the image, I would place an opaque square that fit perfectly over the image. I’d lift the other opaque piece off, take out the negative, and raise the enlarger head. This part was invigorating- opening the aperture fully and blasting the remaining paper with light, resulting in black borders. Each print is unique as light slipped under the square cut out. The result you see accounts color seeping and bleeding into the image.”

The Props assist the House (729)
BY EMILY DICKINSON
The Props assist the House
Until the House is built
And then the Props withdraw
And adequate, erect,
The House support itself
And cease to recollect
The Augur and the Carpenter –
Just such a retrospect
Hath the perfected Life –
A Past of Plank and Nail
And slowness – then the scaffolds drop
Affirming it a Soul –


Ringling Underground is always free for college students with a valid college ID. It is an extension of the Art After 5 program held on Thursdays after 5 p.m. After hours discounted admission is $10 for adults; $5 for children 6-17, children 5 and under and Museum Members are free.

Ringling Underground is a rain or shine event.
Share your Underground experiences on social media using the hashtag:#RinglingUnderground

Natalya Swanson