11R is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by American artist Mariah Robertson, on view May 5 – June 9, 2017 in 11R’s East Gallery. Robertson will present several bodies of work, installed together to present a larger thesis about representation, reproduction, and ideas concerning psychological power dynamics. The works exhibited include a new series of photograms, tintypes, sketchbook drawings and various ephemera.
The largest groups of work featured in the exhibition are recent photograms, for which Robertson is known. These works are made from basic elements of the traditional darkroom, color filters in the enlarger, and the artist’s hands masking light from the lens or moving a cardboard dodger and burn masks, as her left foot sets off short bursts of light with a foot pedal. The resulting images are evidence of the un-witnessed, intuitive, corporeal, performance that occurs between Robertson, her materials and the dark.
All the photographic paper works exhibited have a highly considered yet problematic and active relationship to their own frames. Just as the work comes directly out of Robertson’s physical actions in the darkroom, her presentation of the work in their frames – sliced, curling, and crammed – asserts the material work in a way that echoes her effort in the darkroom. The deliberate presentation is a collaboration with the artist’s framer, who provides regularity and precision to the artist’s degenerate manipulation of photo paper.
Shown for the first time in this exhibition is a series of male nude tintypes. A crew of Robertson, tintype artist Rowan Hasty and an assistant went to the homes of models to make from start to finish wet plate collodion prints. For nearly a decade Robertson has been engaged in a long slow performance piece concerned with the inversion of standard gender binary power dynamics. Through the language of photography Robertson reverses the canonized roles of male and female. This content is coupled with Robertson’s joy of process, which consciously foregrounds its own construction via conspicuous manipulation. Robertson describes the tintypes series as:
“Taking that all up a notch, I've been making, with help, field tintypes in the small New York apartments of young men (cis-males, this time). My period started in 1990 and they were all chosen because they were born 1991-1999. i.e. are legal. The whole enterprise is a sort of difficulty fetish. And the result is an obsessively beautiful silvery 8x10" object that you can hold in your hands or trade."
Mariah Robertson was born 1975 and graduated from UC Berkeley (BA) and Yale (MFA), and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Recent solos include M+B, Los Angeles, CA and American Contemporary, NY. Her work is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, NY, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA