Thursday, September 25, 2008

Upcoming "Spoon River" Exhibition by Christa Parravani

A solo-exhibition of new photographs by Christa Parravani will be shown at Sara Tecchia Roma New York in November. The body of work, Spoon River, is inspired by Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology,” a collection of 244 poems told by the deceased residents of this fictional town describing the situations that led to their demise.

Parravani’s work is heavily influenced by Diane Arbus, who sought to uplift an often downtrodden and socially outcast troupe of characters through photography. Parravani’s work seeks a similar retribution as she is giving closure to each Spoon River denizen while investigating the psychology of death and trauma. Like Arbus, Parravani considers herself a straightforward pictorialist. She uses a 4x5 view camera and strongly avoids altering the works in any way. The photographs are taken near The MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH. Founded in 1907, it is the oldest artist colony in America and the two years that Parravani spent there ingrained in her a sense of natural proportions. Each image has an uncomfortable and uncanny quality, the visual language of which suggests an event beyond the borders of the photograph.

Each scene is carefully planned but photographed en plein air with the spontaneity and the attention to landscape and portraiture attributed to symbolist painters such as Jules Bastien-Lepage. In fact, the identity of each figure is accentuated by the presence of nature, either grand sweeping backdrops or claustrophobic close-ups of a forest interior. The landscape, behind each character, plays as important a role in the development of the photograph as does the back-story associated with each poem. To Parravani, the individual is a product of his or her environment, and thereby belongs, embossed for eternity, within it.