PRINT January 2007

Sara VanDerBeek

IN ON PHOTOGRAPHY, Susan Sontag claimed that all photographs are memento mori, tinged with an intrinsic pathos that encourages an awareness of our mortality. In the context of our historical moment—mournful and uneasy after September 11, overwhelmed in the face of violence and human suffering in Iraq and Darfur—this property of photographic reproduction seems particularly appropriate for an artist to engage. Certainly, the intimately scaled photographs of handmade assemblages that comprised Sara VanDerBeek’s first solo show, “Mirror in the Sky” (last year at D’Amelio Terras in New York), are deeply resonant in this regard. In her photograph Decorations in a Notebook (all works 2006), for example, VanDerBeek places an Associated Press image of a Vietcong soldier adjacent to a reproduction of Pablo Picasso’s haunting sculpture Death’s Head, 1941, whose isolated skull form has been lit by

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