Thierry Goldberg Gallery

Hannah Whitaker
The Use of Noise

April 29 - June 3, 2012


Thierry-Goldberg Gallery is pleased to present THE USE OF NOISE, Hannah Whitaker’s first solo exhibition with the gallery.

In this new body of work, Whitaker presents photographs shot in diverse geographical locales: near a Hawaiian volcano, in an ancient Greek marble quarry, and in her Brooklyn studio. Mixing straight photographs with those confused by controlled light leaks, these images put disembodied textures and natural spaces in conversation with more recognizable photographic imagery.

In Untitled (Landscape) and Napoleon’s Tomb, light leaks obscure some aspects of the image, while other details haphazardly emerge. In this sense, Whitaker lets the process of image-making infiltrate intention, so that chance becomes an equal partner in determining the final product. (The title of show, from a piece of writing by John Cage, invokes his “chance operations.”) Accident itself “leaks” into the work in other ways as well—through drips or by the blind application of light marks on a cave wall. Unanticipated distortions become synonymous with natural processes of decay through entropy, and imprecision and precision are superimposed.

Through the recurrence of more conventional figurative imagery, Whitaker also questions the transparency of photography in general (whether it be nature, beauty, fashion photography etc.). These images use recognizable photographic languages but are divorced from their usual clarity of intent—subverting this familiarity. Her photographs emphasize texture as much as pictorial content, and, as such, the images are imbued with painterly abstraction. In Lava, oozing layers of hardened lava shine with the same iridescent quality as black oil paint. In both Untitled (Drips) and Untitled (Blue Plastic), the hot-spots create patterns that seem at odds with what one might ordinarily expect from a photograph—that is, an accurate representation of something we can locate and identify in the world.

In all, what we find here is the productive undermining of legibility. Tropes become malleable, the controllable becomes uncontrollable. The beauty and mysterious quality of these images do not solely soothe or subdue, but rather galvanize the eye.

Hannah Whitaker (b. 1980, Washington D.C.) currently lives and works in New York. She received her BA from Yale University and her MFA from the International Center of Photography/Bard College in 2009. Her work was recently included in Tailgates & Substitutes at Thierry Goldberg Gallery, as well as in group shows at Casey Kaplan, New York; Cherry and Martin, Pepin Moore, and M+B Gallery, all in Los Angeles. Whitaker is a contributing editor for Triple Canopy and she has co-curated and co-edited The Crystal Chain, a group exhibition currently up at Invisible Exports, NY, and the current issue of Blind Spot Magazine.