Barb Choit, “Untitled Faded Beauty (Heart Pendant),” 2012, digital c-print, 40×30 inches, 101.6×76.2 cm, edition of 3
Rachel Uffner Gallery is pleased to present a show of new work by Barb Choit. For her second solo show at the gallery, Choit will exhibit a selection from an ongoing series of photographs, and will install a neon sculpture in the gallery’s front window. As in her earlier work, the artist continues here to explore fading as a photographic process—not just in its familiar dependence on the camera—but also as it is found in the world, in printed materials whose colors have become gradually faded by the photochemical impact of the sun’s UV rays.
Channeling the tradition of street photography, Choit concentrates on the shop window as her subject matter. The layered reflections that figure in her images recall proto-documentary French photographer Eugene Atget’s pictures of the same subject. In her walks around New York City, the artist photographs faded posters, advertisements or maps set out on display in the windows of beauty salons, barbershops or travel agencies. The vibrancy of their CMYK colors diluted by a consistent exposure to light under their glass encasements, these unassuming shop window artifacts, once photographed, are added to Choit’s growing collection of objects. In documenting these faded print materials, Choit focuses on the condition that combines the generative and the destructive – one in which objects are slowly but surely devastated by the very light that renders them visible.
This notion of erasure and disappearance is echoed in the works’ socio-cultural context. Many of Choit’s pictures were taken in the Bushwick and Greenpoint sections of Brooklyn—neighborhoods whose original character is increasingly eroded as they hurtle towards gentrification. The slightly outdated styles or, sometimes, even functions of the objects the artist chooses to document (who needs a printed map nowadays? Who, for that matter, needs an actual brick-and-mortar travel agency?) lend her images an additional sense of melancholy. In fact, as Choit’s work suggests, even the shop window itself is no longer the cultural signifier it once was, our desire now more often than not snared by newer, less obviously forthcoming surfaces. In creating neon signage for the gallery’s front window, the artist offers both a tribute to and a play on a now-faded vernacular tradition.
With this new work, Choit systematically records the natural visual decay of subject matter similar to her last exhibition at the gallery, “Nagel Fades,” in which she used a tanning bed to intentionally fade a collection of commercially produced posters. Recalling her earlier installation and photography project, “The Division Museum of Ceramics and Glassware,” where she assembled, exhibited and photographed a humble collection of broken dishes, the process of collecting objects on the verge of becoming obsolete drives the work – whether it be a physical collection or a photographic archive.
Barb Choit was born in Vancouver, Canada, and lives and works in Brooklyn and Vancouver. She received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts, and an MA in Modern Art and Curatorial Studies from Columbia University. She has exhibited extensively at venues including The Queens Museum of Art, NY, Bureau, NY, Redling Fine Art, LA, China Art Objects, LA, the Swiss Institute, NY, Blanket Contemporary Art, Vancouver, and, most recently, in a solo project with the Dumbo Arts Center and with Rawson Projects, Brooklyn.
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