The Book of Hours Unearths Unexpected Emotion through the Photographic Process

Opening Reception:
Saturday, December 14th, 5:30 – 8:00pm 2019
The Book of Hours Unearths Unexpected Emotion through the Photographic Process
(Dec 1, Sharon, CT) — Jessie English’s upcoming exhibition at Standard Space, titled The Book of Hours, is a reference to the 15th century illuminated manuscripts produced by monks for use by laypeople. The artist’s own devotion lies deep in the physical act of original photography and is expressed in a series of large-format, multi-exposed mural photographs that neatly tie process to artistic intent – at a time when this type of handmade work is increasingly rare.
English took the photos over three years on her travels with a plastic Holga camera. The 17 pieces in the show are just a fraction of the 40 rolls of film she has taken so far as part of this larger and ongoing project. She approached this work with the belief that the devotional practice of photographing landscapes can stand in for our loss of connection to the landscape itself. 
“The pieces in the show are love poems to landscapes,” says English. “They’re empty scenes derived from nature, but they’re also a construct.”
The artist alters each landscape by shooting a frame, advancing the film a half turn, and repeating. This tweak to the process is intended to upend the perfection of photography to see what emotional things may lie in the layering. But the devotion doesn’t end there. English had to fly to Lake Tahoe to find a facility that would allow her to make large scale b&w darkroom prints.It’s this adherence to (and tweaking of) process as well as the now very difficult task of printing large-format in the darkroom that tease out the devotional in the everyday. 
The title of the show perfectly encapsulates the experience of the project – capturing multiple suns moving across the landscapes, hours and hours spent in the darkroom, and the combination of light and chemistry in the paper can be used to evoke worlds that don’t exist, feelings that don’t exist, and memories that don’t exist through a medium that is usually associated with reality. 
“Disrupting the negative or playing with chemistry has always been a part of my work since the day I entered a dark room,” says English. “I like experimenting with what happens when you ruin photography, and seeing what kind of images it shows us.”
The Book of Hours opens on Saturday, Dec 14th, 5:30pm at Standard Space, 147 Main St., Sharon CT. The show will run from Dec 13th until Jan 12th, during gallery hours from Friday to Sunday, noon to 6pm, or by appointment.


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