MAY 8 – JUNE 14, 2003
Edwynn Houk Gallery is pleased to present the first New York solo show of photographer Pamela Bannos. The show, entitled “Amnesia”, premieres the artist’s most recent series of photographs. It opens May 8 and runs through June 14.
The work of Pamela Bannos (American, b. 1959) addresses the nexus of fact and fiction which lies at the heart of our perception of photography. Her conceptual approach challenges our implicit faith in the truth of the photographic image. In past series, she has both worked with found photographs and with reconstructed imagery produced in the darkroom. The found material was rearranged in a manner to invest it with renewed poetic meaning. The images recreated in the darkroom, on the other hand, are meant to question our perception of scientific imagery, presenting purely imaginary objects constructed as scientific facts.
With her most recent series, Amnesia, Bannos has chosen to specifically tackle the notion of visual definition as an expected attribute of photography. As Lynne Warren (a curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago) points out in the catalogue to Bannos’s last solo show Temporary Quarters: “It is ironic that in these realms of shadow, we relentlessly seek more and more definition, hoping one supposes, to understand our quest for clarity of meaning once and for all.”
In the Amnesia photographs, the layer of factual information has been thinned down to the point of being barely visible. In fact, at first glance the image appears to have all but disappeared. Slowly, however, vague, ghostly silhouettes emerge from the white paper as through a fog. This may be the cloud through which faint echoes of memories try to reach our consciousness. On another level, the photographs cast a tenuous light on our obscure, subconscious connection to reality and to one another. The series was shot in such a way that the subjects were unaware of the photographer’s presence. In this mist of unconsciousness, they reveal unintentional relationships to one another, building mysterious and intriguing narratives which the viewer may be compelled to flesh out with details of his own experiences…or rather, memories of such. As Bannos describes it: “I am interested in how one thing can become another. I want the viewer to look, and then look again.”
Pamela Bannos is currently a lecturer in art theory and practice at Northwestern University. Her photographs have been presented in numerous group and solo shows in the United States, Great Britain and Japan. Recent solo exhibitions include a site-specific installation at the Three Arts Club in Chicago (accompanied by a catalogue), and a presentation at the Photographers’ Gallery in London. She was a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome, and is a recipient of many grants and awards including grants from the NEA and Polaroid Corporation. Her photographs are in the collections of the Henry Buhl Foundation, the Illinois State Museum, the National Museum of American Art, the Polaroid Corporation, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.