Mariah Robertson: Photography Lovers' Peninsula

M+B is pleased to announce Photography Lovers' Peninsula, Mariah Robertson's first solo exhibition with M+B. The exhibition runs from February 14 to May 2, 2015. An opening reception with performance in collaboration with Robbie McDonald will be held on Saturday, February 14 from 6 to 9 pm.


These works are made with photography chemistry directly applied to photography paper. I once described this work as an extreme end, or peninsula, of material-based photo work. Also, the installation layout looks like the outline of Florida on the floor plan of the gallery.


This work stems from some issues with authority and having been told NO about a lot of things that were clearly pointless. This is the emotional engine of a dry, analytic, simple conceptual project of inverting the vernacular binary code of YES/NO in a closed system-in this case, darkroom photography.


Some easily summarized examples, both technical and opinion-based:


One is not supposed to use glossy paper because it is unsophisticated, bad taste, etc.


One cannot touch glossy paper with an ungloved hand because the oil from the finger will render it a damaged, invalid object.


One cannot have any dings, creases or dents in the photographic paper ("if you want to be taken seriously").


Darkroom materials are made to function only with highly controlled, tiny amounts of light. Chemistry is made to function under tightly controlled temperature conditions.


Identifying and inverting various YES or NO points in the operational flow chart led to the following experiments:


Cutting a 6x9 foot piece of glossy paper by hand with a box cutter and wadding it up into the darkroom sink and pouring very hot and very cold chemistry onto it with the overhead lights on like in a regular room.


There is no image, only a record of what has happened to each piece of paper.


Applying a similar decision making process to the framing, so that the framing is irregular and the framed pieces sit on the floor or are stacked floor to ceiling.


I look at reference jpegs of these works so often, that when I see them in person, I remember how much detail and physical presence they have. So we are building some special things in the gallery to make the most out of the experience of actually being there.


Mariah Robertson (b. 1975) received her BA from UC Berkeley and her MFA from Yale University. Her work has been exhibited widely at public and private institutions including the exhibitions What is a Photograph? at the International Center of Photography, New York, A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Process and Abstraction at Transformer Station, Ohio and Modern Alchemy: Experiments in Photography at The Heckscher Museum of Art, New York. Other exhibitions include Mariah Robertson at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, UK; Greater New York at MoMA/PS1, New York (catalogue); Mariah Robertson: Let's Change at Grand Arts, Kansas City (booklet) and Out of Focus at the Saatchi Gallery, London (catalogue). Robertson recently released a leporello bound, scaled reproduction of a 100 foot photograph that was on view at the ICP with London-based publisher Self Publish, Be Happy.  Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Robertson is featured in an ongoing documentary for Art 21 titled New York Close Up. Mariah Robertson lives and works in Brooklyn.