Thursday, February 10, 2011

Seizure by Mark Wyse

I'm very excited to see that Mark Wyse's Seizure has just been released by Damiani. The release date is not until April, but copies seem to be available. In 2009, I helped bring Wyse to SVA's MFA Photo Department to give a artist talk and he showed an early version of the work, along with a maquette of the book. At the time, he was still looking for a publisher, so it is great to see this enigmatic and challenging project finally come to fruition.

Building upon the ideas of his 2008 show "Disavowal" at Wallspace, the book blends appropriated images with Wyse's own work. Avoiding any easy narrative or artistic concept, Wyse's work tears apart the assumed relationships and built in meanings of the images - opening them up and allowing for new meaning. As Wyse writes, "the photographic image is intimate and defensive at the same time. The photograph is less a representation of the world than a representation of a thought that reflects a relationship to the world." The book begins beautifully with a series of enigmatic quotes on yellow pages, and then moves on to what seem at first like a random collection of photographs. Whereas Wyse's show "Disavowal" was about deconstructing photo histories, and as he states a "engagement with our conflicted relationship to desire," Seizure is a more free-flowing exploration of photographic meaning and context - at once highly personal and expansive.

Writing about the exhibition on ArtSlant News, Charlie Schultz wrote, "Strictly speaking, every snap of the camera’s shutter is a form of seizure in which the photographer takes possession of some visual slice of the world. Wyse has also taken possession of other artists’ work (including Ansel Adams) to augment his own images. The third form of seizure is where things really get interesting. Through Wyse’s manipulation of the images’ context he subordinates the subject matter to establish a new system of relationships between each photograph."

Charlie White's essay Soft Copy/Hard Copy, which was commision for the book, is fantastic and available here. You can see some additional installation shots here from Wyse's April 2010 show at Wallspace. As much as I liked the show, the book really shines.

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