M+B is pleased to present Repetition & Difference, an exhibition of new works by Mariah Robertson. Exploring themes of representation, reproduction and the subversion of tradition, Mariah Robertson is known for pushing the boundaries of darkroom photography. Repetition & Difference will be on view at the gallery from January 23 - February 27, 2021, with an opening reception on Saturday, January 23 from noon to 6 pm.
The artist's vibrant camera-less photo works-for which she is best known-are made from the basic elements of the traditional darkroom, yet defy the dominant paradigm of photography as a direct observation of life. Examining the process of image-making from its interior, Robertson's photographic practice offers a meaningful understanding of the medium, and its potential for experimentation and disruption. For Robertson, the concrete tools of photography are a system from which to work with, marking the passage of time and creating tension between chance and plan.
Shown for the first time on the West Coast, this exhibition features new hybrids in Mariah Robertson's ongoing practice of using unique hand-cut masks, color filters and controlled light exposure. Working in complete darkness, Robertson precisely exposes her photo paper at two-second intervals, experimenting with the color balance of the enlarger's filters and the movement of her exposure masks. While this technique is built into the very tools of traditional photography, Robertson pushes the potential of image-making into a visual codex compressing time and action onto a single object. Inherently temporal, Robertson records her physical movements, mental gesturing and chance moments in each two-second exposure.
In a departure from earlier works, this new series of photograms are presented as multipart works, created from a progression of division via cutting, light exposure, repetition and finally re-integration, as the artist brings together these irregularly shaped prints within a single frame. Emphasizing the impossibility of pure reproduction, the artist's pairing of prints creates a new formal relationship between the separated parts, exploring the philosophical affirmation of difference and repetition - a central theme eponymous with the exhibition's title. Here in these works, the relationship between serial tries and (literal) blind experimentation points to an important theme central to the work: the inevitability of progression through imperfect repetition and differentiation.
These new composites are each unique, formalizing the elements of playfulness and chance between the pairings-an important aspect to Robertson's practice. In an exuberant progression from her last body of work, Robertson explicitly asserts the objecthood of this new group in specifically designed frames, on custom color-saturated mounts. These liminal works, existing both as representation and object, foreground Robertson's intense exploration of the photographic process, picking it apart, compressing it and doubling down on its endless ability to create.
Mariah Robertson (b. 1975) received her BA from University of California, Berkeley and her MFA from Yale University. She has participated in the exhibitions, A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Outside the Lines: Rites of Spring at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; and Process and Abstraction at the Cleveland Museum of Art's Transformer Station. Solo exhibitions include Mariah Robertson at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, UK; Mariah Robertson: Let's Change at Grand Arts, Kansas City; and Swope Art Museum, Terre Haute, IN. Her work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others. Mariah Robertson lives and works in Brooklyn.
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