Lisa Robinson: Snowbound at Klompching Gallery
111 Front Street, Suite 206
between Adams and Washington in Dumbo
Brooklyn, NY 11201. 212 796 2070
January 3- February 29, 2008
Snow has a transformative quality. It revises one’s recognition of the mundane and everyday—behind snow’s pristine and uniform cloak, our perception of what once was easily identified changes. Consolidating and concealing, snow altars objects, suggesting essential shapes and forms. While Lisa Robinson’s exhibition “Snowbound” on view at Klompching Gallery expresses this idea in closely cropped, intimate photographs of snow-covered commonplace objects, her photographs also delve deeper into the ethos of an at once foreign and familiar polar environment.
Robinson’s gaze isolates single objects against a stark, minimal snowscape. In her off-square format—all prints are 28 by 36 inches— horizons fall roughly halfway in her compositions, dividing the photograph into neatly symmetrical bands of ground and sky. Often in such photographs as Wish (2005) and Solstice(2007), these expanses of sky and ground read flatly as slabs of softened whites and almost achromatic blues, suggesting a flirtation with a geometric abstraction. Objects—benches, the suburban basketball goal, fishing shacks, trampolines—against these fantastic backdrops are removed from their banal context, appear magical in their remove and disturbing in their silent isolation.
The photographs are at best when minimal and focused around a single object, composed as if a portrait. An exception is the image Invisible City (2007) (perhaps an allusion to the Italo Calvino novel thus named) where a village of ice fishing shacks populates the center of an otherwise blank space, enigmatically depicted at such a distance that the shacks appear as scaled architectural models. This photograph proves, like others, that when one forgets the name and loses immediate recognition of what one sees is when the narrative is strongest and most dislocated. Robinson’s efforts lose focus however when the photographs’ subjects appear set up rather than discovered, such as in Aria (2007) in which a positioned cauliflower sprouts up through a blanket of snow.
Lisa Robinson’s photographs have a quiet, meditative charm. They ask the larger question of what does this environment mean in the 21st Century? Although Robinson’s snowscapes recall the nineteenth-century Arctic exploration that captured America’s imagination, her work also conjures our 21st-century fear of natural disaster—that nature will reclaim the manmade landscape by our own disregard for the environment. This has been the consequence shown in many recent blockbuster films such as the The Day After Tomorrow and I am Legend. Depicting the residue of human activity rather than people themselves, Robinson implicates our modern sense of loneliness, isolation and wanting evoked by this frigid environment.