Of Falling & Floating
Of Falling & Floating presents two chapters in Elijah Gowin's newest series of images. The photographs in this exhibition raise questions of doubt and faith in our increasingly polarized society. Gowin's subjects are pictured drifting in water or falling through the air, either accepting what is happening to them with grace or reacting instead with panic. A sense of anxiety and mystery pervades the images: who are these people, in what rituals are they engaged, and what led them to these transformative moments?
Throughout the series, a multitude of dramas is played out against the backdrop of the natural world: leafy trees, shallow water, and expanses of open sky. As a whole, the series reflects the breadth of human emotion—fear and joy, anger and peace—and expresses the artist's search for inner balance during a time of global uncertainty. The images in Of Falling & Floating are created by the artist using a process which combines painstaking hand-crafted techniques with the latest digital imagery technology. Gowin collects amateur photographs through the internet and collages them in multiple layers before printing small paper negatives which are cut by hand and then scanned, causing the paper fibers to become a part of the final distressed image. The photographs appear to be both old and new, confusing to the eye and yet hauntingly familiar.
Elijah Gowin was born in 1967 in Dayton, Ohio. He received an MFA in photography from the University of New Mexico in 1996 and is on faculty at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. He has exhibited internationally, including a previous exhibition at Robert Mann Gallery entitled Hymnal of Dreams (2001).
The New Yorker
July 2, 2007
Although he shares his father's appreciation of the mysterious everyday, Emmet Gowin's son Elijah is a photographer in a very different mold. The pictures in his second solo show combine images he's appropriated from the Internet or TV with images he's photographed. The resulting collages—of people falling from the sky and figures floating or half- submerged in water—are digitally scanned but output as paper negatives that turn into these grainy, streaked, and crudely vignetted ink-jet prints. Although the process grabs a little too much attention, Gowin uses it shrewdly. His figures in midair are at once sublime and unsetting, recalling the divers in Aaron Siskind's "Pleasure & Terrors of Levitation" series and bodies tumbling from the World Trade Center.