From April until January 2018, Dutch photographer Awoiska van der Molen will be part of a group show at Pier 24 Photography in San Francisco. In addition to this group show, Awoiska van der Molen will speak to her practice as part of the Larry Sultan Photography Award series on October 5, 2017, at 7 PM at the California College of the Arts.
About “The Grain of the Present” at Pier 24 Photography
“The Grain of the Present”, Pier 24 Photography’s ninth exhibition, examines the work of ten photographers at the core of the Pilara Foundation collection—Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Lee Friedlander, Nicholas Nixon, Stephen Shore, Henry Wessel, and Garry Winogrand—whose works share a commitment to looking at everyday life as it is. Each of these figures defined a distinctive visual language that combines formal concerns with a documentary aesthetic, and all of them participated in one of two landmark exhibitions: “New Documents” (1967) at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, or “New Topographics” (1975) at the International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester.
Looking back, inclusion in these exhibitions can be seen as both a marker of success and a foreshadowing of the profound impact this earlier generation would have on those that followed. Although these two exhibitions were significant, most of these photographers considered the photobook as the primary vehicle for their work. At a time when photography exhibitions were few and far between, the broad accessibility of these publications introduced and educated audiences about their work. As a result, many contemporary photographers became intimately familiar with that work, drawing inspiration from it and developing practices that also value the photobook as an important means of presenting their images.
“The Grain of the Present” features the work of these ten groundbreaking photographers alongside six contemporary practitioners of the medium—Eamonn Doyle, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Ed Panar, Alec Soth, Awoiska van der Molen, and Vanessa Winship. This generation embodies Wessel’s notion of being “actively receptive”: rather than searching for particular subjects, they are open to photographing anything around them. Yet the contemporary works seen here do not merely mimic the celebrated visual languages of the past, but instead draw on and extend them, creating new dialects that are uniquely their own.
All of the photographers in this exhibition fall within a lineage that has been and continues to be integral to defining the medium. What connects them is not simply style, subject, or books. It is their shared belief that the appearance of the physical world and the new meaning created by transforming that world into still photographs is more compelling than any preconceived ideas they may have about it. Each photographer draws inspiration from the ordinary moments of life, often seeing what others overlook—and showing us if you look closely, you can find beauty in the smallest aspects of your surroundings. As a result, the visual language of these photographers resonates beyond each photograph’s frame, informing the way viewers engage with, experience, and perceive the world.
About “Larry Sultan Photography Award Lecture” at CCA
Awoiska van der Molen spends long periods of time in solitude in remote landscapes, slowly and intuitively uncovering the identity of each place and searching for the boundaries between self and surroundings that are later revealed in her large-scale, monochromatic silver gelatin prints. van der Molen will speak to her practice as part of the Larry Sultan Photography Award series, presented in partnership with California College of the Arts, Pier 24 Photography, and SFMOMA.
This event is offsite in Timken Lecture Hall at California College of the Arts’ San Francisco Campus.
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About Awoiska van der Molen
Awoiska van der Molen graduated with a MFA in Photography at the St. Joost Academy, Breda in the Netherlands. Her practice is informed by an intuitive approach to image making, and her interest in the intangible qualities of her subjects. Her early works include poised portraits of women on the streets of New York, families sitting quietly together, or other works where her sitters’ attention lies beyond the camera. She continues this approach in her photographs of urban environments, producing uncanny pictures of anonymous houses and streets. Since 2009, van der Molen has taken black and white, abstracted images in nature. Spending long periods of time in solitude in remote landscapes, she slowly uncovers the identity of the place, allowing it to impress upon her its specific emotional and physical qualities. Using her personal experience within the landscape for her creative process, she instinctively searches for a state of being in which the boundary between herself and her surroundings blur. The few images that travel back with her offer a visceral and elusive ambiguity. Their complexity resists a generative reading of place by framing its essential parts anew. Van der Molen often employs a nuanced tonal palette that displaces the perceptions of space, distance and time: seafronts, trees, rock faces, leaves and mountains appear converge and disperse, completely still while simultaneously full of life. Without titles or any indications of location, her large-scale silver gelatine prints recreate her personal experiences in the landscape for the viewer and remain open to interpretation. Her compositions have both the painterly qualities of early Abstractionism and the fastidious attention to detail of the 1980s Düsseldorf School of Photography. Van der Molen’s pictures are printed by hand in the dark room, continuing the intimate, laborious sequence of slow processes and creating a unique stillness that emanates from her work.