Movement by Stephanie Berger & Eric Pesso. On display November 19, 2015 - January 3, 2016
The two artists of this exhibit at the H. Pelham Curtis Gallery seek to capture “life and vibrancy” and “animation and grace” in photograph and sculpture. This is almost an impossibility, which must be why they continue to strive to do so. Eric Pesso has been carving from wood since the 1970s, or the 1990s if you count from only his second phase of what he calls an intense need to create. Stephanie Berger has been photographing dance in New York City for over 25 years, which really means major dances from all over the world in performances in New York.
When we see a raw piece of wood, we often feel that we can see a shape in it, something trying to come out. Eric Pesso takes the opposite approach, for he chooses simple straight-grained pieces of wood, blank canvases as he puts it. But though they are the plainest of what he can choose, we can hear in his wood the nouns of his native locale: Prospect Park, Ditmas Park, the Parks Department, maple, ash, oak, and more. From them he chisels slowly, receptive to elusive instinct on how to move next. He does not name his works, but in the nearly simple results, we can hear the names of his earliest inspirations, Moore, Brancusi, Arp. Thus does life and vibrancy also contain tangible pasts.
The photographs of Stephanie Berger capture nearly three decades of artists (in this exhibit mostly dancers) who entrust their art to the moment of performance. Among them you will find artists like Baryshnikov whose appearance at every stage of their life is wholly familiar to us, and you will find artists like Merce Cunningham whose work (postcard photo) is given momentary life by the most dedicated of dancers. Then there is the photographer who captures these for us. Walk among the photographs, read the captions, memorize the images. These are the tangible traces of our fleeting artistic heritage. The curators of this show chose the title Movement to highlight the two artists’ common quest. We urge you to read the longer artists’ statements available in the gallery and to pause and feel.