Yancey Richardson Gallery is pleased to present As Birdsongs Emerge and The Certainty of Nothing, an exhibition of two new bodies of work by artist Sandi Haber Fifield. The natural environment is used as source material and explored from the vantage point of each series. Throughout, Haber Fifield continues to employ juxtaposed images, layering, drawing, and collage to explore the visual, psychological, and formal possibilities of the photographic image.
In As Birdsongs Emerge, Haber Fifield expands upon the idea of the artist as an architect of nature. Recording and distilling her experiences through the camera lens, the photographs serve as the starting point for her studio process in which she begins to alter the images, cutting them into geometric and organic shapes, then reassembling them in playful, overlapping layers to transform the representation of the perceivable world while pushing the expressive boundaries of the medium. The compositions offer segments and shards of recognizable signifiers – palm fronds, cactus buds, rose bushes – that are spliced, layered, and abstracted into arrangements and associations that slow down the act of looking. Haber Fifield exploits the tension between the plane of the cut photograph and the three-dimensional depth of the imagery, expanding the photographic space while creating multiple points of entry. The viewer is challenged to use their eyes, mind, and memories to navigate the picture plane and question the strata of seeing.
The Certainty of Nothing stands as a visual and philosophical counterpoint to As Birdsongs Emerge, and is inspired by an extended visit to Angkor, the ruins of the Khmer Empire in northern Cambodia. In these ancient sites, nature dictates. Haber Fifield delves into the frailty of human civilization as the forces of entropy and the darker side of nature are brought to the fore. The photographic palette is pushed to the extremes; shadows are encapsulated in fathomless purples and blacks, and the sunlight of the primeval forest is bleached into an ephemeral, otherworldly pastel. Visual and haptic are interwoven as Haber Fifield connects surface and image with the addition of hand-drawn marks, slices, and tears, extending the light and line in the photographs. The images are imbued with the transformative inertia of time and nature. A contemporary response to the timelessness of Angkor, The Certainty of Nothing acknowledges the inevitability of nature’s reclamation of this city back to the elemental energy from which it came, and humanity’s inability to anticipate events they cannot control.
Sandi Haber Fifield was born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1956, and she lives and works in New York. Her work is the subject of four monographs: The Certainty of Nothing (die Keure); After the Threshold (Kehrer Verlag); Between Painting and Picking (Charta); and Walking through the World (Charta). Haber Fifield’s work has been widely exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States including The Art Institute of Chicago; The De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, MA; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; The Oakland Museum; The Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, FL; and The St. Louis Museum. Her work is included in numerous major public collections including The Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and The High Museum, Atlanta. This is Haber Fifield’s third solo exhibition with the gallery.