The Sun Placed in the Abyss

Columbus Museum of Art

October 7, 2016 to January 8, 2017

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Lisa Oppenheim, The Sun is Always Setting Somewhere Else, 2006

Columbus Museum of Art is proud to present The Sun Placed in the Abyss from October 7, 2016 to January 8, 2017. The Sun Placed in the Abyss is a group exhibition featuring 50 artists and collectives who, since 1970, have used the sun as subject to explore the historical, social, and technological conditions of photography, both still and moving. Borrowing its title from a poem by Francis Ponge, The Sun Placed in the Abyss tracks how the sun has been used as a metaphor from Conceptual art to the Pictures Generation to current practices.

“The exhibition continues the Columbus Museum of Art’s curatorial focus on highlighting the meaning and relevance of contemporary art and photography for broad audiences,” says director Nannette Maciejunes. “The insightful and absorbing works in this show reveal the degree to which even the most advanced and often difficult art of our time is still grounded in the world around us.”

The exhibition is divided into three thematic sections. In the first section, “Archaeologies of Knowledge,” artists re-contextualize pictures of solar phenomena from the nineteenth century to today, reflecting on the intertwined histories of photographic technologies and scientific inquiry. The second section, “Into the Light,” showcases artists who have pointed their camera directly at the sun or used sunlight as a medium. In the final section, “New Romantics,” artists incorporate images of sunrises and sunsets to highlight issues of aesthetic taste and the material conditions of photographic technologies, from postcards and tourist snapshots to magazines and cell phones. The romantic trope of the rising or setting sun becomes a poetic mediation on the politics of photographic representation and meaning.

The Sun Placed in the Abyss is CMA’s first major thematic exhibition organized by Drew Sawyer, the William J. and Sarah Ross Soter Associate Curator of Photography.

“The sun is such a fundamental part of our daily lives and of photography, yet it is extremely difficult to look at with the naked human eye and even to capture with a camera,” said Sawyer. “These artists are using the sun to grapple with issues of perception, representation, and technology, both in the past and today.”

The exhibition includes works by Dove Allouche, Sarah and Joseph Belknap, Sarah Charlesworth, Anne Collier, Linda Connor, Tacita Dean, Jan Dibbets, John Divola, Shannon Ebner, Buck Ellison, Sam Falls, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Ryan Foerster, Dan Graham, Yuji Hamada, Rachel Harrison, CJ Heyliger, David Horvitz, Matthew Jensen, Craig Kalpakjian, Kikuji Kawada, Matt Keegan, Mathias Kessler, Barbara and Michael Leisgen, Jochen Lempert, Zoe Leonard, Sol LeWitt, Mary Lucier, Aspen Mays, Chris McCaw, Lisa Oppenheim, Catherine Opie, Trevor Paglen, Anthony Pearson, Richard Prince, Walid Raad, Dario Robleto, Susan Schuppli, Hugh Scott-Douglas, Simon Starling, A.L. Steiner, Yosuke Takeda, Diana Thater, Wolfgang Tillmans, Artie Vierkant, James Welling, T.J. Wilcox, Letha Wilson, and Hiroshi Yamazaki.

This exhibition is sponsored by William J. and Sarah Ross Soter and by FotoFocus. The FotoFocus Biennial 2016 is a regional, month-long celebration of photography and lens-based art held throughout Cincinnati and the surrounding region that features over 60 exhibitions and related programming. As part of the Biennial, Participating Venues respond to the theme: Photography, the Undocument.

Catalogue
The Sun Placed in the Abyss is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog published by the Columbus Museum of Art. It is edited with text by Drew Sawyer, William J. and Sarah Ross Soter Associate Curator of Photography, Columbus Museum of Art. Text by Jordan Bear, Associate Professor of Art History at University of Toronto; Tyler Cann, Curator of Contemporary Art, Columbus Museum of Art; and Kris Paulsen, Assistant Professor of Film, Video and New Media in the History of Art Department and Film Studies Program, The Ohio State University.

Exhibition