Eileen Quinlan


The Voidist, 2013


Top Down, 2013


A Record, 2013


Lady, 2013


Four Ferries 1, 2013


Brooks Brother, 2013


Harry Rag, 2013


Four Ferries 2, 2013


The Blade, 2013

all images: from Curtains
courtesy of the artist and Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York

EILEEN QUINLAN is best known for making photographs which explore photography itself. Through a restrained, precise practice based on analogue studio techniques, she produces highly abstract surfaces through the simple manipulation of colour and light. Employing photographic methods and ideas of the historic avant-garde, such as those used by the Surrealists and the Constructivists, as well as design and graphic elements from advertising and stock photography, she plays with the conventions of reproduction and display.

Her most recent series, sampled here, alternates between a passive modality of production – allowing the development process itself to degrade the negative’s surface – and active intervention, attacking the surface of the film with steel wool. Corrosion and abrasion alternately conceal and disrupt the images in these works, which take as their subjects varied visual motifs that have rarely appeared in her previous work: new portraits and rephotographed snapshots of the same figures from years prior; a close-up of a crocheted doily; printed stripes and hash patterns; imageless negatives, in which the process of decay itself forms an accidental composition; and a rephotographed reproduction of Gutai artist Saburo Murakami’s 1955 Laceration of Paper performance. For ‘Curtains’, the black-and-white gelatin silver prints are exposed: unframed, pinned directly onto the wall, and uniform in size. There are twenty-four works in total, as the hours of the day; an apt number for an artist who stages the accumulation of damage and the chemical event as temporal indices within a medium that purports to arrest the passage of time.

Demonstrating that the prints are yielded from a negative—that they are prints and not paintings, drawings, or photograms—is important to me. And I do struggle with my orientation toward the image. I enjoy working with photographic objects as units that can be arranged in a space. The image itself isn’t always important. Through it I can begin to unravel how images are transmitted. Though sometimes I prefer to engage with a single image as a picture, emphasizing less the way it manifests and circulates and more the way it’s perceived visually, perceptually, historically, as media. I go back and forth. – EILEEN QUINLAN in conversation with WALEAD BESHTY for Bomb Magazine, September 2009

Good news: Curtains is currently on view at Miguel Abreu Gallery in New York till December 15, 2013. Additionally she is part of the New Photography 2013 exhibition at MoMA, NY.

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