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Erika Blumenfeld: Moments of Light

PICA - Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Portland
Mar 1, 2001 - Apr 21, 2001


Erika Blumenfeld, Moments of Light
Polaroids on Aluminum Plates

Sponsored by Merge Design Santa Fe artist Erika Blumenfeld's work has a strong reference to photography. In "Light Leaks", Blumenfeld took 1,440 ten-second Polaroid exposures from midnight to midnight on the summer solstice in order to visually interpret the longest day of the year. In another piece from the "Light Leaks" series she cameralessly exposed twenty-eight 4" x 5" color Polaroids which she mounted on aluminum plates. Blumenfeld's improvisational photographic style is also apparent in a process she terms "Lunatype," where she has taken glass plate negatives and various chemical baths to produce an image. She describes the "Lunatype" as having the look and feeling of a daguerreotype, but it is technically very different. The results are large minimalist-flavour wall pieces composed of many small squares, creating soft repetitious patterns of light against dark. In 1998 Blumenfeld began to question the entire concept of photographing images. Moving away from images in her work, Blumenfeld is trying to discover a new language with her process. Closely related to physics, each Polaroid she takes represents a particular space, time and light. Her new work is lenseless, light leaks in and around an improvised back on her camera while the shutter remains closed. Her images try to capture fleeting moments in time and nature. Light is energy - it intensely wants to crawl into any dark space. Here this energy is stripped down to its bare essentials. We now have an opportunity to meditate, like Einstein, on this artist's fascination with light. A lot of her visual concern speaks to us about light, but upon closer introspection, the dark spaces are equally as fascinating. The only thing changing on these images is the shadow of the push-pins used to attach her pieces to the wall. The rest of the light holds still until the sun sets.

© Robert Peterson