Keisha Scarville’s Placelessness of Echoes (and kinship of shadows)
On View June 7 through July 7, 2018
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 7th, 6-8pm ET
Baxter St/Camera Club of NY
Since 1999, Keisha Scarville has been making work rooted in film photography exploring themes of personal memory, family history, Caribbean geography and identity. As a Baxter St 2017 Workspace Resident, Scarville presents recent work in her solo show opening tomorrow.
Below is a description along with a preview of the images in this exhibition. Also, check out Scarville’s earlier work about her Guyanese family in her 2014 Dodge & Burn photographer interview.
The exhibition addresses questions of place, power, and self-formation within nature. At times in the photograph we are privy to the body of the artist Scarville, a sole black woman entering the transformative space of the nocturnal American landscape. In these rural environs of the Northeast, outside her home in New York City, she creates objects and images that inhabit the spatial, temporal, and visual ambiguity of darkness. These figural bodies, not quite human, nor animal, nor inanimate articles, unfold as abstract accounts of a nocturnal shape-shifter who becomes part of the landscape around her.
Inspired by Guyanese author Wilson Harris’s first novel, Palace of the Peacock, Scarville mines literature and philosophy on the “possessed, living landscapes.” She enters the environment with her camera, and, not without hesitation, allows her own relationship to the landscape to unfurl. She is an observer, who captures subtle variations in the night as previously concealed elements appear.
Through documenting this process of emergence, Scarville establishes a framework through which the geographic complexities of a region — indigenous flora and fauna or artistic interlocutor — could witness its epistemology, history, and narrative and furthermore by knowing transform the darkness of place from an arena for fear into a place of power and belonging.
The darkness enfolds allowing the separation between body and terrain to disappear managing to decenter the human as a defenseless prey. Rather than traffic in black and white or a duotone, Scarville highlights reds and golds as well as a blue mystical fogginess of night. Thereby allowing for an alchemic relationship between artist, myth, and history to ignite in this new space, where darkness is no longer inert, but becomes active perception.