Critics’ Picks

View of “Of Many Minds,” 2016. From left: Theresa Ganz, Serpentine Day for Night 1 and 2, 2016; Klea McKenna, My Fault and Trinity, 2016; Theresa Ganz, Day for Night Panorama, 2016. Center: Meghann Riepenhoff, Ecotone #11 (Bainbridge Island, WA 11.09.15, Rain Shadow from Drizzle and Downpour over Poles and Chairs), 2016.

San Francisco

“Of Many Minds”

1295 Alabama St
September 7–November 12, 2016

The work on view in “Of Many Minds” gives new life to what photography tends to render dead or unchanging. Even as the three artists appropriate historic photographic techniques, there is a sense of the future in their work, albeit one threatened by man-made ecological change.
Theresa Ganz’s works are haunted by nineteenth-century processes even as they are cut through with the present tense of digital manipulation. Recalling geologic survey photographs in their attention to detail and focus, Serpentine Day for Night 1 and 2 (all works cited, 2016) give the illusion of moonlight shining on a large rock outcropping, as their edges blur and darken. The views are fractured and reassembled digitally, then overlaid with hand-painted native flora.

Melancholy pervades Klea McKenna’s exquisite photographic rubbings of tree rings made on gelatin silver paper. These unique prints are visual evidence made possible by touch, brilliantly confounding photography’s usual privileging of sight. The rings seem to rise up from the paper, but so too do marks made by the chainsaws that felled the trees, in Trinity (1) and Forty Years. The physical, contemplative process invokes grave rubbings; McKenna’s images are a kind of memorial to the passage of these great trees and to time itself.

Meghann Riepenhoff allows rain or waves to trace patterns on cyanotype and C-print paper, literalizing the nineteenth-century assertion that photography was the pencil of nature. Yet Riephenhoff’s prints are dynamic and left unfixed; they will change over the course of their exhibition. Apparently, even static records prove to be fleeting.