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Photography Degree Zero: The Black Swans of Ellen Carey

August 4 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Opening Reception: Friday, August 4 from 4-6 PM, in the Five Points Annex Gallery.

Five Points Gallery,  presents a special new exhibition featuring Ellen Carey, (who was the winner of the 2022 Five Points Small Works Juried Exhibition, curated by Douglas Hyland). The exhibition will be featured in the Five Points Annex from August 4 through August 26, 2023. The artist chose this location to cut down on the light exposure on her unique positive and negative exposure photographs. Carey will be exhibiting a variety of works from multiple series including: Photography Degree Zero, Struck by Light, & Zerograms.


Ellen Carey – Statement

“How is this picture made?” followed by “What is this picture of?” are questions asked about my work.  The first addresses process and it is the very process which becomes the subject.  The second finds an image without a subject, neither portrait, still life, or landscape.  My photography purposely challenges our culturally and historically prescribed expectations around the photograph and its picture signs.  The ‘what’ is in front of the lens as its “camera vision” is reversed.  I use only light, wherever and whatever it strikes.  My work intentionally upends traditional methods of “rendering” a photographic image with unusual approaches and combinations.  This forces a break from the past, freeing a picture from a hierarchy of things to be captured to a picture that is made.

In this context, abstraction in photography and lens-based art presents a contradiction in terms, and minimalism presents a further oxymoron.  Well developed in the 20th century in other areas – Abstract Expressionism, Minimal and Conceptual Art – these tenets are incorporated into my art practice.  The American invention of Polaroid 20 x 24 (circa 1980) complements these breakthroughs in visual thinking with my discovery of the Pull in 1996, producing a black conical loop, a parabola, seen in nature as the tip of a comet.

A different kind of document, it is abstract and minimal, Polaroid instant technology and Polaroid color, both a new kind of photograph and 20th-century process; it fits under my umbrella concept Photography Degree Zero (1996-2023).  Polaroid is used by many artists and photographers, such as Ansel Adams, Marie Cosindas, Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, William Wegman, and Mary Ellen Mark, and widely recognized for expanding our picture culture.  I am also a “Polaroid artist” keeping the instant, peel-apart, one-of-a-kind negatives, often exhibiting them with their positives.  Struck by Light (1988-2023) parallels my Polaroid work by investigating experiments that create abstract and minimal photograms, a 19th-century cameraless method, also unique.

Briefly stated, my work under these twin artistic practices often overlaps in a variety of ways with light and color, highlighting experimental combinations.  The Polaroid Pulls are dramatic, high-impact pictures of my inventive techniques and innovative methods.  Struck by Light uses the photogram, made without a camera, it is created in the darkroom; in color, no light (zero again) is allowed to except upon exposure.  An emphatic and evolving commitment to experiments in color unifies both practices, serving as a conceptual point of departure and leitmotif.  In my Dings & Shadows and the Caesura series, the referent/object, seen in traditional photograms, is removed.  My newer work, named Zerogram, links to my Polaroid practice, highlighting that nothing, zero, is between the paper and light.  Light is the indexical in all photography, light is color, seen in nature’s rainbow.  Color is an artist’s universe, color theory — RGBYMC — photography’s planet, a contextual reference in palette, underscoring my concepts.

The end results include abstract and minimal work as Photography Degree Zero and Struck by Light, freely interchanging concepts with the other, from Polaroid and/or photogram, with a wide variety in palette and form.  My work involves the discourse around contemporary photo-based artwork, it stands as a testimony to minimalism and abstraction; process within photography; color as subject; forms, and feelings.


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August 4
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Five Points Annex Gallery
15 Water Street
Torrington, CT 06790 United States
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(860) 618-7222