June 20 - July 25, 2009
Opening June 19, 8:00pm
Honoré De Balzac, the nineteenth century’s master of literary realism, believed that when a photograph was taken, a spectral layer was transferred from the subject through the ether and onto the camera’s sensitized plate. The only photograph taken of the author shows him with his hand across his chest as if to retain as much of his being as possible. From a contemporary perspective Balzac’s superstition may seem anachronistic, but the concerns of this writer, whose life and practice coincided with the development of photography, point to a subject still worthy of investigation: how mimesis influences our interactions with images.
A concept originating with the ancient Greeks, mimesis is classically defined as the visual or literary representation of nature. The word mimetic is often used in this way to describe photographic images. Our engagement with photography, however, should also be considered in relation to what Walter Benjamin calls the mimetic faculty: the capacity to yield to our surroundings, to perceive and produce similarities, and to become Other. This faculty unsettles our everyday interactions with the lives of photographs, from the latent image to the print and beyond.
Photographs are both index and object, and our interactions with them are complex. The Cast of Shadows features five artists who employ varied mediums—including photography, video, sculptural installation, and drawing—to navigate mimetic encounters with images.