Sometimes you just develop a crush on an artist and it’s tough not to think about the work A LOT. I’ve had these crushes on just about every artist represented by Cumberland Gallery but today I’d like to focus on photographer Greg Sand who recently paid us a visit with an extensive portfolio of work for our upcoming exhibit, Under The Radar, opening January 11th, 2014.
Sand’s prints are incredibly intimate, just the right size to gently cradle in your hand. The imagery is haunting, consisting of antique portraits in which the subject has been erased leaving only a trace of their existence represented by a pair of shoes, an empty chair, or the lonely shadow of the photo’s former occupant. In the artist’s words: The photographs are now about the absence of the subject rather than about the subject itself. Hopefully the viewer ponders the removal of the person and concludes, given the obvious age of the portraits, that the subject is dead. “By giving me the absolute past of the pose… the photograph tells me death in the future… I shudder… over a catastraphe which has already occurred.” These words from Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida describe how I feel when I view a photograph as old as the ones used in this series. I feel a connection to the person, followed by a dread of what is to come, followed by a sense of grief at what has already transpired. The removal of the subject–who is very much alive in the photograph–forces the photograph to more truthfully depict the present reality in which the subject is no longer alive.
This is interesting to me on two levels. The first being that I’ve thought about loss a lot lately as our current show, Unique Visions, paints a varied picture of memory and history; a past the exists only in representations and imaginations. There’s a sadness behind the wild patterns and humorous digs at the private lives of the characters that hang on these walls. One that touches on every aspect of the unseen/unheard self.
The second reason that I find Sand’s work interesting is, simply put, timing. How odd that this poignant imagery should come across my desk just as I’d spent the previous evening looking over the very Barthes essay that Sand references in his statement. Following on the previous night’s dreams of the expression on the face of Lewis Powell, a man convicted and hanged for the attempted assassination of US Secretary of State William Seward during the Lincoln administration. Barthes uses his image as an example of both the gaze of the past and future. The catastrophe that has already occurred before its time. It seems that we might all relate to this idea in a way that is intensely personal and here I am back again at the intimacy of Sand’s photographs. The small images gently reminding me of the passage of time with a nod to the future that fits so perfectly in the palm of my hand. This is one artist that won’t be under the radar for long. Visit his page on our website or make a point of stopping in to see this work in person on January 11th during our opening reception.
Greg Sand, Brothers, 2012
3.75″ x 3.75″ archival pigment print