Em Rooney at Bodega


Artist: Em Rooney

Exhibition title: The Word for Forest

Venue: Bodega, New York, US

Date: January 10 – February 14, 2016

Photography: images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Bodega, New York

Note: Bodega is now called Derosia: https://www.derosia.nyc/

The Empire Gas & Fuel Company, a subsidiary of Cities Service Company, is beginning to purchase crude oil in addition to storing its own production because of the current low price of $1.25 a barrel for mid-continent crude, according to Henry L. Doherty, president of the Cities Service Company.
“The recent cut in crude oil,” said Mr. Doherty, “was not surprising, for conditions have been such for many months as would justify a drastic cut.
The chief reason for the cut in price has been the heavy production due to an unprecedented record of discoveries during the last two years.
World consumption of petroleum is bound to continue to increase with great rapidity and nothing short of new and improbable discoveries will prevent an early inroad upon the stocks which are now being stored.”

– The New York Times, August 14, 1922

The Word for Forest is comprised of a small selection of photographs pulled from my archive of 16 years of negatives: images I began taking when I was in high school. An oil rig in the Southwest, my old loft apartment inside a garment factory, the printing press at the Korean Daily News, a now defunct squat in Amsterdam. The photographs, made in the darkroom and hand-colored, are documents of an outmoded archive, referent and referred, chemically fused, like perishable fossils carved from light. Their outer frames encase objects—thatch, ash, fruit and stone—the way a dictionary will sometimes press a flower for eternity. Both cumbersome and practical, physical depositories (books, libraries) reflect a futility and luxury at a time when digital storage is as expansive and evasive as our own minds. Despite this, I feel a pull towards momento, tree’s blood. Each attempt at an archive, a personal politic, a cache, gold. I fear, eventually, public records will be insufficient, and we will lament the seasons.

Future words for forest:

apple, brazil, empire, expro, exxon, gate, gates, grass, fire, loneliness, love, sand, seed, sunrise, rattlesnake, rock.

– Em Rooney






Em Rooney, Empire, 2015


Em Rooney, Korean Daily News, 2015


Em Rooney, Shadows, 2015


Em Rooney, Polar Bear, 2015


Em Rooney, Maine, 2015


Em Rooney, Elliot, 2015


Em Rooney, Miller building loft, 2015


Em Rooney, The End of Oil, 2015


Em Rooney, Outer frame for Elliot (The Sawdust Ring), 2015


Em Rooney, Outer frame for polar bear (The Left Hand), 2015


Em Rooney, Shadows (Kurby), 2015