April 07, 2018

In The Habitat of the Great Bears at Adjacent To Life


Tinsquo's curatorial project, Adjacent To Life, presents In The Habitat of the Great Bears: Photographs of Eco-conscience and Holiness by Denis Ryan Kelly Jr.

Denis Ryan Kelly Jr. has spent a lifetime traveling to and photographing many of the world’s most historic and spiritually resonant sites. He has produced visual essays on such locations as Machu Picchu, Ireland’s Crough Patrick, Chartres Cathedral in France, Kyoto’s Nanzen-ji, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the Lakota Territories.

Out of respect for such charged and exalted subject matter, he approaches his work as a documentarian, artist and earnest pilgrim, remaining open to experiencing and perhaps communicating the transcendent potentialities harbored in humanity’s collectively recognized hallowed sites.

This show finds Kelly transposing this orientation from cultural interpretations of the sacred to that of untrammeled wilderness. Taken in the temperate rainforest of Alaska’s Sheet’-ká X'áat'l (Baranof) Island, the works suggest that it is the forest – nature – that offers the unfiltered cathedral from which religious expression derives.

Kelly ventured alone into the domain of the coastal brown bear equipped with a camera he constructed to yield a particular perspective. Oriented in the vertical format, the camera creates an 8”x10” film negative which affords sumptuous levels of detail. The lens produces a field of vision of about 115 degrees with heighted resolution in the center and softened focus in the periphery.

The artist selected for these attributes because they parallel those of human visual perception: attention to detail, sharpened focus in the center of vision, a wide field of view, the vertical orientation of a biped…

Thus these works are as much a depiction of the profundity of the pristine natural world as they are of our own unique perceptual apparatus – which, of course, is an expression of nature as well. Biologically, we remain wilderness. Taken in the context of Kelly’s oeuvre this prompts a tantalizing notion: to perceive is to gain access to the unmediated divine.

In The Habitat of the Great Bears runs through May 11 and is on view at the Adjacent to Life pop-up gallery housed in Ninth Street Espresso (341 E. 10th Street at Ave B, New York City).

This exhibition is dedicated to all stewards of the Earth, especially the Tlingit and Haida people for taking care of this land since time immemorial.
Posted by Mark Roth at April 7, 2018 02:21 AM