Now on View: Laura Letinsky: Still Life Photographs, 1997-2012
Duncan Wooldridge on Laura Letinsky’s ambiguity about gravity:
"Many of the works from Fall describe weight and gravity, yet they depict a virtual, potential weight and a gravity that is for the moment at least, outside of our visual perception. These forces are anticipated, expectant. The plastic cup, which we know to be light enough to be swept away in a breeze, feels uneasily solid when isolated, seen only with its shadow (which here, as in the language of the advertising photograph, describes presence). The shadow catches the lip between table and wall: the seeming weight of the cup making all the stronger the sense of a fall that is about to occur. We imagine gravity taking hold.
As viewers, our interpretations of images are usually narrative, our readings causal – a list produces a tilt, produces a fall. Letinsky is intensely aware of how the viewer perceives and reads the image. And because weight constructs a narrative and sets in motion a series of forces, she can also remove this weight; removing narrative at a stroke. Anticipating and short-circuiting the projection of our viewing, in Ill Form and Void Full Letinsky attempts a kind of weightlessness, one that is the production of a suspended looking.
As our eyes scan the surface of the image, flatness is rendered increasingly uncanny, magical perhaps. Italo Calvino in his writing proposed a similar quality for literature, remarking “whenever humanity seems condemned to heaviness, I think I should fly like Perseus into a difference space. I don’t mean escaping into dreams or into the irrational. I mean that I have to change my approach, look at the world from a different perspective, with a different logic and within fresh methods of cognition and verification. The images of lightness that I seek should not fade away like dreams dissolved by the realities of present and future.” As we cannot fully reconstruct the spaces from which these images are drawn, we are placed in a state of suspension, a pictorial space outside of regular temporality: a lightness that is akin to flight, that is awash with different perceptions.”
Image: Laura Letinsky, Untitled #12, 2010. From the series Ill Form & Void Full. Inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York.