Barbara Levine & Martin Venezky January 17 — March 7, 2020

The photographic relationship between the pictorial and the abstract is one of the most fundamental understandings of place and time. “Place” is something we carry with us — a summation of our inner memories mapped onto the present landscape as we traverse it. The continuity of the land, though, has its own unbroken time frame and it is much longer and steadier than the interrupted, distracted time we are able to spend with it. While we look for the universal, we are always tripped up by our own presence.

We don’t know the people who populate our photographs but we can embody their boredom, their anxiety, and the desert sun on the backs of their necks. They chose to capture their moments for unknowable reasons. Martin and I have chosen to yoke them together to conjure future places and infinite possibilities They have been where we are going.

“We have been where you are going.” is a phrase that captures the blurriness between past and present and is a reminder that whatever we wish for has been sought out by others before us. 

The most recent works inspired by this sentiment are our photo collages exploring the horizon line. Martin Venezky and I, Barbara, both collect vernacular photography but the way we respond to our pictures is different and the dialogue between us grounds our work. I recognize the sublime hiding in plain sight and see how pictures of apparent limited value often overflow with tension and beauty. Martin, on the other hand, is partial to the unremarkable. The lack of aesthetics reminds him how quickly the images we cherish can empty themselves of value.

For the photographs we make together, we construct a fresh encounter with the past, and with photography itself, by reorganizing the horizon line to confound time.

We slice apart anonymous photos placing them side by side, combining and recombining to create unexpected juxtapositions.  When we discover connections and form relationships, the overwhelming anonymity of any one snapshot gives way to mystery. An inadvertent detail can demand our full attention. As the composition builds we add segments of Martin's abstract color photographs to connect realism and abstraction to create a challenging immediacy.

The photographic relationship between the pictorial and the abstract is one of the most fundamental understandings of place and time. “Place” is something we carry with us — a summation of our inner memories mapped onto the present landscape as we traverse it. The continuity of the land, though, has its own unbroken time frame and it is much longer and steadier than the interrupted, distracted time we are able to spend with it. While we look for the universal, we are always tripped up by our own presence.

We don’t know the people who populate our photographs but we can embody their boredom, their anxiety, and the desert sun on the backs of their necks. They chose to capture their moments for unknowable reasons. Martin and I have chosen to yoke them together to conjure future places and infinite possibilities They have been where we are going.

-Barbara Levine and Martin Venezky

Barbara Levine is a photo collage artist, collector of vernacular photography, curator, and author of several books on found photography including People Kissing: A Century of Photographs  (2018, Princeton Architectural Press). Her extensive photo archive (a.k.a. Project B) is the foundation of her artwork, exhibitions, publications and collaborations with other artists. She is dedicated to collecting and preserving vintage vernacular photography, and equally fascinated by combining anonymous photos via contemporary artistic methods and technologies to explore issues of identity and to reinterpret the experience of the photographic image. Her series We Have Been Where You Are Going, photographic collages made in collaboration with Martin Venezky, are based on imaginary horizons scattered across time and place were acknowledged with a 2017 LensCulture Exposure Jurors Award. She regularly organizes exhibitions for Cherryhurst House in Houston, including the exhibition from her archive and self -published photo book (with Mr. Venezky), CAMERA ERA, which was named a 2014 best photobook by photo-eye. Trained as a photographer at the San Francisco Art Institute followed by a graduate degree in Museology, Ms. Levine served as exhibitions director at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Her website is projectb.com.

 

Martin Venezky is a designer and artist based in San Francisco, California. Throughout his career as a graphic designer, while specializing in book design and typography, Venezky has maintained a deep interest in photographic process and abstraction. For the past several years, he has created new bodies of work in photography and photographic installation. Venezky has an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and an MFA in Design from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He has taught at RISD and CalArts and, for over 25 years, at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where he is currently Professor in the Graduate Design Program. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art honored Venezky with a 2001 solo exhibition, and, in 2005, his monograph, It Is Beautiful...Then Gone, was published by Princeton Architectural Press. In 2015, Venezky was inducted into the esteemed Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI). In 2018, San Francisco’s Letterform Archive acquired an extensive collection of is work, studies, and process for their permanent collection.

We Have Been Where You Are Going images are available as 24 x 48" archival pigment prints made in editions of 3 + 2 APs. Prices range from $1,600 and $3,000 depending on size and availability.

Please call: (312) 266-2350 for prices of specific pieces.
Prices are print only unless otherwise indicated.

Barbara Levine & Michael Venezky
We Have Been Where You Are Going (Horizon I), 2015
Barbara Levine & Michael Venezky
We Have Been Where You Are Going (Horizon III), 2015