Artist: Lisa Oppenheim
Exhibition title: La Quema
Venue: Lulu, Mexico City
Date: October 11 – December 7, 2014
Photography: Diego Perez
Lulu is proud to present La Quema by the New York-based artist Lisa Oppenheim.
Working with photography and video, Oppenheim has developed a practice that revolves around the appropriation of historical imagery and predominantly analogue methods of reproduction. The artist draws her images from historical archives and often rephotographs them using techniques that at once analytically reflect on the nature of analogue photography and the content of the imagery portrayed.
Thus the point of departure for this ambitious work is a photograph of a kiln taken by Manuel Álvarez Bravo in 1955. Álvarez Bravo was one of Mexico’s most influential photographers of the twentieth century. He is known for politically engaged work that had aesthetic similarities with European surrealism, but very much focused on the daily life of ordinary citizens of Mexico. For this work, Oppenheim uses a single image found in the archives of the J. Paul Getty Museum to produce a series of “smoke” photographs, which are photographs exposed with firelight rather than the light of a traditional enlarger. In this way, content and process are fully synthesized; the image of smoke is made with the firelight, the source of the smoke that lies outside the image. In a further exploration of process and photographic representation, the photographs of smoke are interspersed with ceramic tiles. Through this process, smoke is considered as a generative force rather than the destructive force of fire. Fire produces both the light that exposes the photographs and transforms the clay to ceramics in the kiln. A single piece, this photographic installation consists of eight unique black-and-white silver gelatin prints and five ceramic tiles.