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Naomi Elena Ramirez
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Williamsburg



ARTIST STATEMENT: I use photography as a tool to explore the ambiguity and transformation at the conflation of boundaries between dance/performance and photography, between freedom and limitation, between Self and “Other”. Playful and systematic in my methods, I am currently employing hybridization, reduction and chance. The discovery, experimentation, improvisation, deliberation, and modification required in the crafting of a series intrigues me and stems from my background in dance and choreography with an approach mirroring the creation of a dance – the rehearsal process. Influenced by Minimalist art, I use Minimalism as a language of deconstruction and simplification by which to re-organize and re-imagine, in an attempt to comprehend the multiplicity of living. I am inspired by the choreography of the Judson Dance Theater artists; by the painting of Kazimir Malevich, Ellsworth Kelley, and Barnett Newman; by the sculpture of Carl Andre, Donald Judd, and Fred Sandback; and their deconstruction of form to its primary perceptual and spatial possibilities, building blocks with which to construct new methods of understanding the complexity of consciousness. The frame is a perspective and a power structure, disassembling and reassembling the frame transforms perception. Ostensibly what is not in the frame does not have significance. This ‘outside’ space can be considered ma, the Japanese concept of negative space or the interval between things, the space/time filled by the imagination, which is equally important. The picture plane is thus a tri-part construction of subject, frame and exclusion. Contemplating my personal history as a dancer and choreographer and inspired by the movement artist Deborah Hay and the dance scores she creates, I began with a proposition: Can I build a series of still images that evoke a dance, deconstructing the movement yet retaining the tension of motion? Will the viewer perceive or imagine movement occurring between the frames? To begin, I photographed a series of tightly cropped movements, positions, and gestures. By placing the body on the edge of the frame, fragmenting the body and using the picture plane as the performance space, the removed frame is then re-drawn in pencil – the edge is re-imagined and thereby re-defining the space. Line, as described by Kandinsky, “is a track made by the moving point; that is, its product. It is created by movement”. The lines themselves are movement, choreographic stage directions and floor patterns, signifying how the fragments are strung together and how the body inhabits the performance space. Idiosyncrasy in my movement choices and fragment compositions reflects inclusion of automatism/improvisation, as well as, choreographic considerations of rhythm, repetition, and variation. Not finite in meaning, I allow the viewer to conjure a fall, a bending forward, or a jump. A dance performed on the page and within the imagination. [The Japanese concept of Ma applies here.] Creating a hybrid form, in this mixed media work the lines of the body and the lines in pencil work in conjunction as movement. This disjointed fragmented body cut-off by borders relates to itself as an “Other”. Similar to the fragmented writing of Barthes, which represents the individual between whole and fissure, the identity of the individual is broken. Illusions of self-recognition, autonomy, and control reflected in the odd and discomforting gestures and shapes that refuse to conform to the rigid bounds. The body struggles to traverse the lines and challenge the defenses. Moving through the constraints of fragmentation and frame the body is changed, bent, stretched, and turned, by the maze of performance. Living on these pages the body repeats anxiety and release, transgression and repentance, abandoned within the confines of societal inhibitions. Bounded by disconnection, seemingly powerless, how do we open possibilities and balance choice and chance? How do we manage in an uncertain world and how do we manage uncertainty itself? Using chance procedure, an exaggeration of an accident, I fogged large format film with colored light; inaccurately controlling the light by use of cards and light leaks. Not knowing the amount or quality of light that reached the film I awaited revelation. There are three traditions in psychology’s view of uncertainty, the knowledge seeker, anxiety of the unknown, and probability of outcome. Intrigued by the experiment, I am apprehensive of my reaction to the result. Symbolic of the randomness, powerlessness and absurdity of life, aleatoric procedures have been used by many artists. For the Dadaists, it was a reaction to the horrors of WW1. For John Cage, it meant the removal of will, "imitating nature in its manner of operation". For me, it is additionally, a practice of acceptance of an uncertain future. As in the work of Walead Beshty, the antiquated photochemical process is given prominence. It is scientific history the basis for further understanding of the unknown. The resulting abstract images are ravishing splashes of bright color with occasional sharp angles and lines. They defy repetition. A desire to control and organize is symptomatic of the disparate nature of events in life. Using the language of Color Field painting I captured a real-world subject, the sky. Reduced to a swath of color the limitlessness of the sky is caged by the frame. The possibilities, freedom, and literally the refracted rays of the universe set within margins. The sky is a forgotten daily constant. Similarly, pointed out in the work Super Mario Clouds by Cory Arcangel, it is a background. The symbolic and biochemical effect of these single skies (blue, night, grey and stormy) are optimistic, calming, neutral or melancholic. Biochemically, “deep blue with a far shorter wavelength has a calming effect and tends to stimulate cold rational, logic, and mathematical parts of the brain.” Color, Nature's own powerful non-verbal language, is further reduced and organized, placed into a Cartesian grid of rational, predictable determinism in rows by hue and saturation. Reminiscent of paint chips or Pantone color swatches the sky is totally dissociated from source and meaning. It has been distilled and is transformed. These dissected skies are mesmerizing and simultaneously twist the cliché of transcendence.
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