Camera Obscuras: 1991 - 2006
March 3 - April 14
cam.era ob.scu.ra - a darkened enclosure in which images of outside objects are projected by their own natural light through a small opening and focused onto a facing surface.
For the last 15 years, Abelardo Morell has been quietly building one of the great ongoing photography projects - a view of the world through rooms that have been turned into camera obscuras. At once pictorial and conceptual, these pictures address issues of science, art, topography, landscape, and architecture. Surprisingly, this will be the first New York exhibition devoted exclusively to Morell's Camera Obscura series.
The initial idea for the work came out of Morell's demonstrations to his photography students at the Massachusetts College of Art in the mid-1980s where he turned his classroom into a Camera Obscura. The exercise was designed not only to elicit a sense of awe and wonder, but also to connect students to the precursive roots of the medium. It was not until 1991, however, that Morell decided to document the process on film, and he began by taking pictures in his own house in Brookline, Massachusetts. In order to capture the elusive projections, the exposures had to be about eight hours long, but the initial results charged Morell with possibilities. The play between the inside and outside world, the tension between the right way up and upside down, the surreal contrast of buildings and beds, trees and walls, formed a miraculous and original vision of a magical but still real world.
Over the ensuing years, while continuing to make photographs of a number of different subjects, from still lives of books to the backstage of the Metropolitan Opera, Morell has continued the Camera Obscura series venturing further and further afield to different cities and states and then to England, France, Italy, and Cuba. He has photographed in simple cottages and in some of the world's great museums, in the homes of the rich and in public libraries. 60 of the photographs were recently published in a monograph: "Camera Obscura - Photographs by Abelardo Morell." and the work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Victoria and Albert Museum, and more than forty other museums and institutions around the world.
This exhibition was produced in association with the Bonni Benrubi Gallery.
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