Barbara Kasten: New Peers in Contemporary Photography

April 23, 2015 - photo frame

Documentation of Barbara Kasten operative in her studio, New York, NY, 1983. Courtesy of a artist. Photo: Kurt Kilgus.

“Barbara Kasten: Stages,” curated by Alex Klein during a Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, is a initial vital consult of Kasten’s work, from her fiber sculptures from a early 1970’s, to a newly consecrated site-specific designation involving a scarcely 30-foot-high video projection interacting with a design of a gallery. For a practicing artist with scarcely 5 decades of work to survey, some competence duly note that this initial museum retrospective is prolonged overdue. Certainly it is, and there’s no doubt that Kasten has prolonged been underrecognized, however, this muster comes during a time when Kasten’s work is maybe during a many relevant.

Barbara Kasten, Axis, 2015, designation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Photo: Constance Mensh.

Though she never lerned rigourously as a photographer, Barbara Kasten is best famous for her rarely staged detailed array of studio constructions and architectural spaces, quite for their lush, jam-packed colors and perspectival strategy of light, shade and space within a detailed frame. Influenced by a Light Space transformation in California, Constructivism and Bauhaus experimentation, in sold a work of László Moholy-Nagy, Kasten uses sculptural forms, mirrors, props and lights to examine a interplay and tragedy between three-dimensional and two-dimensional forms, condensation and element and a intent and image.

Barbara Kasten, Construct 32, 1986. Courtesy of a artist.

These concerns have come to a forefront of alertness due to a work of a new era of artists and curators, quite with honour to a middle of photography. This subsequent era engages with photography not as documentary medium, though as a middle with fundamental grave properties — digital and analogue — developed for experimentation. Kasten’s work, with a deficiency of account and precisely staged constructs built for a camera, situates her right in a midst of these new contemporaries, artists such as Kate Steciw, Elad Lassry, Sam Falls, Eileen Quinlan, Jessica Eaton, Lucas Blalock and many others. On Apr 7th, a ICA hosted a row contention entitled “Kasten in Context: New Peers” between Kasten and Sara VanDerBeek, David Hartt and Takeshi Murata, to plead common processes and precedents. And in an talk with Liz Deschenes in a muster catalogue, Kasten comments on this sell with a new era of artists: “I never felt that we had a counterpart organisation before, and now we do. There are younger artists who honour what we do, and we honour what they do. So what if there is a thirty-year age disproportion between us? We are articulate on another level.”

Barbara Kasten, Architectural Site 17, August 29, 1988. Location: High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; architect: Richard Meier. Courtesy of a artist.

To try this intergenerational review we invited 4 immature artists to criticism on and yield discernment into Kasten’s photography vis à vis their own, to yield a lens or support or counterpart by that we can know several aspects of Kasten’s work, and her impact on contemporary photography. we asked them how and when they had turn informed with Kasten’s work, and how it done an impact on their work and their perspective of photography.

Erin O’Keefe, Much Ado, 2014. Courtesy of a artist.

“I don’t remember accurately how we initial became wakeful of Kasten’s work, though we know when we did, it was a revelation.” Erin O’Keefe, a visible artist and designer formed in New York, creates photographs that feat a interpretation of three-dimensional form and space into two-dimensional images. For her, Kasten’s work “presented a operation of possibilities for photography that felt unequivocally critical to me, and deeply applicable to my possess interests as an artist. It set out an swap process of operative — that it could occur in a studio, and examine phenomena of light and space within a flattering firmly tranquil still life. These were not things that we had encountered most in photography — and it was both moving and validating to find an artist operative this way.”

Hannah Whitaker, Blue Paper (Albers), 2014. Courtesy of a artist.

Hannah Whitaker, who began her studies during Yale as an undergraduate in a early 2000’s, when Gregory Crewdson and Philip-Lorca diCorcia were pioneering cinematic scenes installed with account content, told me, “Looking back, we comprehend that we didn’t afterwards have a clarity of what was being left out of these conversations, that were totally dominated by possibly account tableau (influenced by Jeff Wall) or typological (influenced by a Becher’s) work. When we initial became wakeful of Kasten much later, my indebtedness for her work rivaled my indignation that we hadn’t been wakeful of her sooner.”

Jessica Labatte, Spotting #1 (Emma), 2014. Courtesy of a artist and Western Exhibitions, Chicago.

Chicago-based artist Jessica Labatte concurs, “I never felt like my use was accurately in line with a ‘tableaux photography’ that was so prevalent in a early 2000s, as we always suspicion of my constructions as some-more sculptural and grave than cinematic or narrative. [Kasten’s] photographs supposing chronological dominance and context for my own, during a time when we wasn’t unequivocally certain how to contextualize my possess practice.” Despite a fact that Kasten taught during Columbia College in Chicago for many years, Labatte, who attended a School of a Art Institute (SAIC), usually detected Kasten’s work in connoisseur school: while “making still life constructions in my studio and meditative about a antithesis fundamental in epitome photography,” a curator of photography during a Art Institute suggested she demeanour during Kasten’s work from a 1980’s. “I had been vital in Chicago for roughly 10 years, though had never seen any of her photographs,” Labatte says. “I consider it was before there was most of her work online, so it was a small bit some-more formidable to find. I still find it conspicuous that a paths never crossed before that, given we had such identical interests and influences, from mirrors and colored light to a Bauhaus and Moholy Nagy.”  

Jaclyn Wright, Panopticon, 2015. Courtesy of a artist.

Jaclyn Wright, a new MFA connoisseur who now teaches during SAIC, contextualizes her find of Barbara Kasten’s work in terms of anticipating a womanlike purpose indication in an differently unequivocally male-dominated medium. “I find it comforting or lenient to see womanlike artists referencing other womanlike artists. I’ve been actively seeking out womanlike artists that we can bond with (visually, conceptually, etc.)…I never had a clever womanlike participation in my educational life — so we make it a indicate to uncover all of my students (but generally a women) extraordinary work combined by gifted women, such as Barbara Kasten.” Wright describes a approach her work shifted after she became some-more proficient with Kasten, as good as other contemporary photographers operative in a same vein: “Visually speaking, there were several cultured choices and modes of formulating that began to seem in my work after experiencing hers. we am unequivocally drawn to a tone or monochromatic choices she creates for any series…[and] a approach she uses a studio to upset a approach we understand abyss within a image. This has been unequivocally judicious when I’m attempting to emanate images that challenge how we consider we should be noticing an image.”

Barbara Kasten, Scene III, 2012. Courtesy of a artist.

Kasten’s use supposing a new indication to demeanour during and respond to, sketch out new possibilities over portraits, landscape and travel photography — those “windows on a world” a detailed support was meant to represent. “In my experience, being a photographer seemed to mean taking pictures, as a kind of penetrating observer,” O’Keefe remarks, “the wilful impulse ethos kind of thing. Kasten’s approach of being a photographer was another indication altogether. She was making photographs — not so most anticipating a support as stuffing it.”

Barbara Kasten: Stages, 2015, designation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Photo: Constance Mensh.

“I find it engaging how most of a essay on her contextualizes a work an amalgam of sculpture, designation and photography,” records Whitaker. The retrospective muster during a ICA indeed emphasizes Kasten’s interdisciplinary credentials and use — though Kasten’s work can yield us with a some-more expanded perspective of what potentialities a middle of photography can hold. Whitaker continues, “There is a determined and nonessential insistence that her work is not just photography. [Kasten] shows us a possess slight perspective of a middle — that photography can engage creation pictures, not usually holding them.”

Barbara Kasten: Stages, 2015, designation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Photo: Constance Mensh.

Kasten, when reached for comment, voiced a feeling of thankfulness and maybe some clarity of vindication, during a rebirth her works are now enjoying. “Twenty-plus years ago we set out to do a documentary video on women artists in photography who we felt were not removing a approval they deserved,” she told me. “I never suspicion that I’d be a target of identical courtesy after in my career. Thanks to Alex Klein and a ICA Philadelphia, my career is being looked during by a younger era only as we did in High Heels and Ground Glass. It’s a lapse of all a good kismet we set in suit in a 1980s.”

–Natalie Hegert


“Barbara Kasten: Stages” runs until Aug 15 during a ICA Philadelphia. Kasten’s work is also a theme of a solo muster during Bortolami Gallery in New York, on perspective from Apr 2 – May 2.

Jaclyn Wright is now exhibiting in a organisation exhibition, “Moving Forward, Looking Back,” during Filter Space, Chicago, until May 1, and her work will be featured in a arriving emanate of The Plantation Journal, No. 4, Geometrical Photography. Wright is portion as Guest Editor for Papersafe magazine, Issue 5, due out in August.

“Erin O’Keefe: Natural Disasters,” a solo muster during Platform Gallery in Seattle, opens May 7, by Jun 27.

Hannah Whitaker’s recently published book Peer to Peer is accessible from Mörel Books. Her work will be on perspective during NADA in May with M+B Gallery.

Jessica Labatte’s critically acclaimed solo muster “Underwater Highway” is now on perspective during Western Exhibitions in Chicago, by May 2. Her work will be featured in a arriving Contact Sheet: Light Work Annual 2015, published by Light Work.




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