Monday, January 28, 2008

The Monday Muse: Robert Mahon

By Kimberly Baldwin

Photographic artist Robert Mahon has spent nearly three decades incorporating chance into the process of creating conceptual multi-image portraits. When using even a single element of chance in or out of the darkroom -- from determining which lens is used, the shutter speed, or the printing techniques -- an apparently ordinary image is rendered into something unforseen. Mahon says, "I keep in mind Robert Frost's remarks about making poetry ... 'If there's no surprise for the writer, then there's no surprise for the reader.'"

Mahon's latest work -- Merce Cunningham at 88 -- combines photos of Merce Cunningham, moonflowers, and text fragments from the writings of John Cage, who was Cunningham's life partner and Musical Director of the Cunningham Dance Company for over 50 years until his death in 1992.

Mahon photographed Cunningham, who is often referred to as America's greatest living dancer and choreographer, in 2006 after a long morning of teaching. Shown in a wheelchair, Cunningham appears serious and introspective, and still very much a force of nature.

While watching Cunningham's dancers, Mahon was reminded of moonflowers he had photographed in his garden the previous year. "After a night of being in full bloom, the delicate white flower slowly contorts and folds in on itself under the morning light. The movement stops when the moonflower finally curls into a taut irregular sphere and falls from the vine." Paired with Cunningham, the association of movement is exquisitely conveyed.

Merce Cunningham at 88
, photocollages by Robert Mahon, are on view in the gallery at Holsome Teas, 27 Witherspoon St., Princeton, through Feb. 29. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

1 comment:

Caroline said...

I live in Princeton and didn't even know that Holsome has an art gallery. I'll be sure to check it out.