Comments/Context: This is the third time I've seen Mariah Robertson's work in the past couple of years, and each time I see it, I come away more interested in what she is doing. I attribute this increasing attention on my part to the fact that the work is a significant and radical departure from most of the current commonly held tenets of contemporary photography. It is unabashedly analog, it is process and materials centric without being perfectionist or reverently recreationist, it disregards the traditional definition of a frame (when was the last time you saw a 150 foot long photograph?), and it is mixes abstraction and representation in an unorthodox manner, overlayed with a healthy dollop of gestural expressionism. In short, it's about as contrarian as you could get in today's over-sharpened digital world.
These newer works seem slightly more exuberant and lively than the last batch I saw, perhaps a little less self-consciously mannered and a bit more chaotic; new visual ideas are being incorporated and the recipe is getting more complicated and flavorful. Overall, I think it's still very much a work in progress, but given the risks she's taking, the odds are getting better that she will end up somewhere durably original.
While I certainly enjoyed many of the framed images in this exhibit, I suppose my favorite work was the big installation (9, 2011); it's in the top installation shot. While the other works are relatively controlled, self-contained artistic thoughts, the installation has a looser, more improvisational feel that isn't often associated with photography; yes, it's messy, uneven, and sometimes hard to decipher, but the swirl of color and chemistry has a raw, physical energy that is surprisingly magnetic.
New York, NY 10003