Mariana Cook: Lifeline
Jun 18 – Sep 11, 2017
In the year before the world's turn to the 21st century, portrait-photographer Mariana Cook made a radical shift in subject matter. She decided to make one photograph per day of objects in her life, close at hand, in her home and while travelling--a bird in flight on a cloudy day, a perfect stack of pancakes, the bottom of her young daughter's foot, the shadow of her own hand, a stonemason's bucket. From the year's daily photographs, her book Close at Hand was assembled and eventually published in 2007.
Cook's mother died in 2004. In addition to earlier close-at-hand work, some of the photographs in this on-line exhibition were made in the last ten days of her mother's life. Most of these images are light abstractions. Cook has said, "Light is what inspires me to make photographs and that is what I live for. Light represents life." The last photograph in the exhibition, "Holding Hands", was made the last time the artist and her mother held hands. It is an image that departs from the otherwise abstract nature of this exhibition, an edited version of Lifeline, currently on view at Ivorypress, Madrid, May 30-July 15, 2017.
Mariana Cook works exclusively with black-and-white film and makes gelatin silver prints. She is the last protégé of Ansel Adams.
From the Ivorypress catalogue of Lifeline, excerpted from "Life Expectancies," the introductory essay by poet Jorie Graham:
"I say watch, rather than look at, because the first things these images ask is that we slow down. In addition to the call of their formal beauty, they demand what may seem an excessive amount of attention. But that excess is exactly calibrated to their apparently minimal content, and to the almost stark simplicity of their presentation. It is further activated by the sequencing. They ask one to follow them, each image a station, each station an initiation. The order in which they unfold is essential. Selected from sixteen years of work (1999-2015), this brilliant sequencing of Mariana Cook's photographs is not unrelated to other explorations of hers (Fathers and Daughters; Stone Walls: Personal Boundaries; Justice: Faces of the Human Rights Revolution), but Lifeline asks us to undertake a journey that seems uniquely and urgently suited for our minute, our fissure in time--now speeding up, narrowing. All the people appear to be gone. The only human trace is the one hovering behind the lens. And even it exists only in a shuttersnap of tme. Each image involves less than a fraction of a second in which something occurred. We step easily into its spot of time as invited. What is it that has occurred, or is occurring? It does not seem to involve our standing here. It does not appear to include us. It is abstract."