Brea Souders, Mountains Without Faces @CCNY

JTF (just the facts): A total of 18 color photographs, framed in white and unmatted, and hung against white walls in the single room gallery space. All of the works are archival pigment prints, made between 2012 and 2014. 10 of the works are from the Single Cuts series and each sized roughly 13×10, while the other 8 works are from the Mountains Without Faces series and are each sized 20×16; all of the prints are available in editions of 8. (Installation shots below.)

Comments/Context: While many contemporary photographers are busy experimenting with the object qualities of photographic prints, Brea Souders has stepped back one link in the processing chain and focused her attention on the physical properties of negatives and positives. Starting with images from her own archives as her raw material, she slices and dices the intermediate transparencies, turning full images into fragments and fragments into clustered piles of shards and strips, the original images iteratively losing their ability to communicate specific meaning.

Souders’ Single Cuts are just what the title implies, single transparencies chopped down into incompleteness. Kids on a carnival swing, a clothesline at night, some flowering bushes, a blurred beach view, each has been pared down to a flash of memory that remains stubbornly elusive. Just enough information has been removed to hinder its ability to communicate clearly, xacto-knifed arcs creating elements of missing mystery.

More and more cuts reduce the original source transparencies to shredded shards, which Souders then piles into complex sculptural forms (and ultimately rephotographs). At this point, the individual pictures lose the foundation of their photographic function, becoming snippets of transparent abstract color not unlike stiff brush strokes or cut grass. She then takes these bands of color and layers them into swooping arcs and circular orbs reminiscent of woven bird’s nests, where flashes of color aggregate into thick, multihued blackness. These works feel dense and overlapped, exercises in texture and surface that revel in three dimensionality and additive composition.

This pairing of projects has a quietly elegant rhythm, the slow disassembly of photographs ultimately building up into something entirely new. Souders’ scissored transparencies clearly offer plenty of avenues for unexpected experimentation and discovery, particularly at the in-between crossover point where see-through images are transformed into active physical objects.

Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced as follows. The 13×10 prints from the Single Cuts series are $800 each, while the 20×16 prints from the Mountains Without Faces series are $1400 each. Souders does not currently have gallery representation in New York (nor any meaningful secondary market history), so interested collectors should likely contact her directly via her website (linked in the sidebar).

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Read more about: Brea Souders, The Camera Club of New York (CCNY)

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JTF (just the facts): Published in 2020 by Many Voices Press (here). Hardcover, 9.125 x 12.5 inches, 160 pages, with 50 photographic reproductions (45 color, 5 black-and-white). In an edition ... Read on.

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