So excited to launch my first colour book!
John Szarkowski’s 1978 MoMA show, Mirrors and Windows: American Photography since 1960, made a case for two currents in the photographic work of the prior two decades: work that used the medium as a lens for a self-reflexive inward gaze, and work that looked beyond the photographer, out into the varied reality of the present moment. From the outset, it’s clear that Jennilee Marigomen’s Window Seat both acknowledges the metaphor of photography-as- window and consciously resists reading the world metaphorically. Rather, Marigomen’s photo- graphs show the benefit of careful attention to the overlooked and often ephemeral beauty in our everyday surroundings. The title implies that the photographs are about looking and celebrate an attentiveness to things in their most minute, phenomenological detail. The implication is that awareness of the tiny gestures that make up the beauty of the world will be more fruitful than anx- ious groping for systems of meaning; Window Seat is a sequence of such simple and beautiful gestures. Within this process, Marigomen acts as a sort of a gifted and sensitive guide—often suggestive and playful, never heavy- handed or overbearing. With care and subtlety, Marigomenturnsthede- tails of everyday life into sources of wonderment and awe.
This is not to say that the strength of Marigomen’s photographs is solely their formal beauty. While many focus on the play of geometry, light, color, and tone, the themes in Window Seat echo broader trends in her work.The ambiguous interplay ofobjects —both man-made and natural—persists throughout the images: plants, horses, birds, and dogs populate the series, showing Marigomen’s attention to the ways in which organic forms meet man-made objects and how man-made objects communicate with their natural surroundings. While it’s popularly held that the boundaries be- tween nature and culture are artificially drawn, Marigomen’s photographs pose the question without positing a clear answer.
They are images that ask not only where and how, but if, such boundaries might exist.The pictures of Window Seat evoke these ambiguities by documenting sites of exchange where the organic and artificial touch in playful ways. Each interaction registers as both tongue-in-cheek and earnest. Beyond capturing the structural influence of flora, Marigomen also has an eye for moments that suspend narrative certainty in service of the ambiguous interchanges between objects: a lone dog wears an Elizabethan collar and sits, sentinel-like, be- neath a sign pointing to the beach; watermelons ride casually in the bed of a pickup truck, as at home there as in the bed of a garden; attenuated cactuses on a parched hillside sit beside portly bathers soaking in the translucent waters of a swimming pool.These images point to the complex, lively ways that plants and animals act as mirrors, compliments, and foils, simultaneously organizing the built environment and blurring its periphery.
Just as Marigomen finds play between the built and natural environment, she often documents the formal similarities and sympathies between sets of organic forms.While the natural world seems rife with replicating patterns, Marigomen’s eye is often drawn to the incongruencies in the man-made environment, where the built environment fails to replicate and pattern itself.While the natural world puns on its own forms, man-made objects either show their internal disorganization (a wall painted randomly, albeit beautifully, in seven different shades) or suffer a more lonesome fate. The series looks sympathetically toward these solitary objects (buckets, a waste bin, an umbrella, a seesaw, a guard tower), seemingly cast out of the democracy of objects.
The succession of objects and scenes slowly reveals the project’s context: one comes to recognize the seaside town’s whitewashed walls, sunseekers, blue sea, and bluer swimming pools. Yet even as street signs and warm light hint at a geographical referent for the work, the images in Window Seat continually veer away from a unified narrative, documenting neither a place nor a journey, in service of the beautiful particular. Within the project, the world’s pieces don’t co- here to form a knowable whole. Instead they celebrate the often fragmentary, isolated, and quietly beautiful frame untasked with telling a larger, linear story.The succession of images suggests that the world is made up of neglected sites imbedded in the everyday, which the keen sensibilities of a talented photographer can animate, arrange, and make deeply compelling for the viewer.
Window Seat - Jennilee Marigomen
Edition of 500 / Hardcover
22.8cm x 29.7cm / 64 pages
Special edition / Edition of 25 with 8" x 11" print
Editor: Jeff Khonsary
Text by: Nich McElroy / Copyeditor: Jaclyn Arndt
Proofs: Jason Fulford
Design: The Future
Published by New Documents
Vancouver, Canada / Los Angeles, USA
Printed in Korea
Book Launch and Exhibition
Friday September 26, 2014
257 East 7th Avenue
Also available at Printed Matter's New York Art Book Fair
New Documents/Fillip Table
September 25-27 2014
Long Island, NY