DISPATCH is pleased to present a solo exhibition by photographer Erica Baum. Part of an evolving body of work over the past decade employing found image and language constructions, the works in this new series are comprised of photographs of printed material — capturing cross-sections, slices of images, and interrupted text strings in her compositions of fanned paperback pages.
Having worked with subject matter from art historical indexes to esoteric printed parlor games, Baum’s works depict the way language and signs are structured on a page or picture plane, developing an in-depth group of works around her given subject. By framing images and capturing details, she manages to uncover serendipitous combinations of words and forms outside the logic inherent in her subjects’ structures.
In this new series, myriad colors outline the page edges of Baum’s chosen subject: paperback books. Baum steps outside of her practice of black and white photography to create lush c-prints of fanned-out soft-cover books — disposable novels, slapdash movie adaptations, and celebrity biographies. Like her earlier work with card catalogues, three-dimensional space is flattened, and pages are compressed, foreshortened and cropped by the camera’s lens. Green, yellow and red strokes of dye file up like folds of a curtain framing a stage. The images, letters and words that emerge are presented in a new framework: stories unrelated to the books’ original plots unfold. A precise, economical storyteller, Baum draws elegant chance encounters and found poetry with few depicted signifiers.
“In my work, the tie between source and product is loosened if not altogether severed. The books are nonfiction, but my photographs of them are fiction. The stories are conveyed abstractly in a kind of portrait of the idea of a book without being a specific book. This approach shows that a book can have more than one life — more than a conventional beginning-to-end narrative would have us believe. Coherence is dislodged and replaced by and with The Naked Eye.” –EB