Return to Nature has always been a distress signal of mankind, signifying the need to take care of ourselves and to get back to basics. Be it the classical or neoclassical Arcadia, Jean Jacques Rousseau’s return to our primitive being, William Wordsworth or Samuel Coleridge’s search for solitude, or Caspar David Friedrich’s discovery of landscape as the representation of God, Nature has always been our mother and one of our ultimate refuges.
Kevin Cooley’s new photographs plunge directly into this Romantic tradition of landscape, and he enriches it with contemporary concerns.
Nature is the muse, and man is the explorer. Breathtaking night views of American landscapes are illuminated by eerie distress signals, possibly messages coming from above or vice-versa. Light shooting through the sky highlights an endangered beauty and at the same time represents a divine or extraterrestrial phenomenon.
Taking photographs, for Cooley, is a lonely job, infused with silence and meditation. This contemplative mood, along with a sense of wonder and fear, permeates the entire new body of work.
Also present in the exhibition are video works incredibly similar to Cooley’s photographs in their pathos and theme. The videos ask the viewer to consider the boundaries crossed between the stillness of photographs and the sense of time passing in motion pictures.
Cooley received his MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2000 and lives in Brooklyn. His artwork has been published in many magazines, most recently in Le Monde 2, GEO Italy, and Bright Magazine. He is a recipient of The Aaron Siskind Fellowship and the Rema Hort Mann Grant. His work is also included in the permanent collection of the Harvard Business School.