Erica Baum

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Artist’s Statement

My photographic work utilizes found language and imagery. As an undergraduate I studied Anthropology and I look at my source materials, books, blackboards, card catalogues, player piano rolls, sewing patterns etc. as potent artifacts that can yield poetic information reflecting the circulation and dissemination of information and material in our shared popular culture. I’m thinking about structures and systems and how a playful engagement can yield insights as well as generate new meanings.

Transposing the tradition of street photography, I navigate intuitively framing and partially decontextualizing my subject matter harnessing moments that suggest meanings beyond their original situations.

What interests me are the juxtapositions and sense of history derived from the words themselves even without knowing everything. I want to give you a sense of a particular environment but not in its entirety. The view is oblique and re-contextualized. In this close up immersive situation the viewer can retain a level of awareness, just enough to inform but also to allow a different visual and semantic experience to take hold. The source is familiar and recognizable but the experience is new. It is that tension between something that we recognize, that we routinely encounter and the fact that we can look at it in a different way that creates a strangeness, a difference in which exist multiple possibilities.

While respecting the constraints of a given subject, the page sequence of a book or the reference system of a library, the work suggests a visual meta-language, mixing history and humor to display the disparate, often unheard cacophony of voices present within cultural structures.

Reflecting intimate and direct encounters with familiar actions and objects – opening a card catalogue drawer, opening a book, folding a page – the viewer is reminded that meaningful visual surprise surrounds us if one pays attention.

Erica Baum is well known for her varied photographic series capturing text and image in found printed material, from paperback books to library indexes. She received her MFA from Yale University in 1994 and her BA in Anthropology from Barnard in 1984.

Recent museum exhibitions include Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Face à face, frac île‐de‐france, Villetaneuse, France; Anna Atkins Refracted: Contemporary Works, The New York Public Library, New York; The Swindle: Art Between Seeing and Believing, Albright‐Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Lever le voile, Frac île‐de‐france, Paris; The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin, The Jewish Museum, New York; Photo-Poetics: An Anthology, Kunsthalle Berlin and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Reconstructions: Recent Photographs and Video from the Met Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Recent solo and two‐person exhibitions include A METHOD OF A CLOAK, Square is the Chatter, Galerie Markus Lüttgen, Düsseldorf; A METHOD OF A CLOAK, Klemm’s, Berlin; A Long Dress, Bureau, New York; Naked Eye Nature Morte, Galerie Crevecoeur, Paris, France; AAa:Quien, Erica Baum & Libby Rothfeld, Bureau, New York; The Following Information, Bureau, New York; and Stanzas, Galerie Crevecoeur, Paris. Selected biennials include: AGORA 4th Athens Biennale, Athens, 2013 and the 30th Bienal de São Paulo: The Imminence of Poetics, São Paulo, Brazil, 2012.

Her work is held in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; MAMCO, Geneva; Albright‐ Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris; FRAC Ile de France, Paris; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven and others.

 

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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom, winner of the 2017 Washington Prize, Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, New American Writing, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, Verse Daily, and VOLT.