The Natural World
The Natural World: Tabitha Soren and Min Kim Park
June 1-July 21
The Natural World explores mankind’s desire to stay above the world’s natural order. The exhibit also examines the anxiety that desire causes for both artist and viewer. Tabitha Soren’s lush photographs of people running capture this tension. In Park’s video installation, nude participants are comfortable with their natural state but might cause viewers discomfort.
Curator Shauta Marsh first saw Soren’s photographs in McSweeney’s quarterly literary and art publication. “Her series of people running struck me. The pieces were theatric and sincere all at once. There’s genuine anxiety in the subject in many of the photos, and that’s what makes them beautiful.”
In Min Kim Park’s installation “Finding A Pose,” Marsh believes a similar discomfort may be felt by the viewer. The piece is projected larger-than-life unrehearsed movements of nude, female volunteers. “These are ordinary, young, white college coeds who have been given no detailed direction except a simple instruction of ‘finding a perfect pose which best describes them’,” says Park. “I capture not only the final pose but also the repeated attempts to get it right from the beginning.”
Soren’s Running Project started when she decided she wanted to make images at night that weren’t just about color and pictures of people which weren’t portraits. “I want to address the sensitivity of the human condition, causing us to think about our unease in the world. My static landscapes needed people on the verge of something. The most intense way I could think of visualizing that was to ask them to run. I started out shooting friends but eventually was able to also put myself in the uneasy position of shooting strangers.”
Soren shot the project in 15 states plus Mexico and Canada over the past three years. “For most of these shoots, I am asking a friend of a friend of a friend to get up at dawn, jump in a freezing lake, or do fifty wind sprints through the desert. These shoots are not easy on the subjects,” said Soren. “I was really moved by how generous people were with their time, how open they were to my crazy ideas and how collaborative the process ended up being. I found that people wanted the experience of making art. The resulting image for most of them was an afterthought.”
The tension between the still image and the cinematic in the Running images tap into a collective narrative which allows viewers easy access. The pictures don’t explain what happened just before or right after. The viewer is the one who decides why the runners are running and what happens next. Viewers have to mine their own secrets to fill in the story. “It was was easy to make nature seem wild but I wanted the people to be that way too. For me these images speak to the twists of fate in life that can unhinge us. I am exploring panic, mortality, resilience and havoc in this project. I am constantly amazed at what people are able to survive – and what they don’t.”
Soren was born into a US Air Force military family and grew up all over the world. She received a BA in Journalism and Politics at New York University and later studied photography at Stanford University and at California College of the Arts. Soren spent many years working in journalism. Over the past ten years, her work has exhibited in Seattle, Washington, Santa Barbara, CA, Minneapolis, Minnesota, San Francisco, CA, Brooklyn, NY, Austin Texas, Princeton NJ. Public collections include the Oakland Museum of California, the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Ogden Museum of Southern. In 2010, she was a finalist for Photo Lucida; and won the Director’s Choice Award at Santa Fe CENTER, and was awarded the photography prize by the Museum of Modern Art’s Susan Kismaric at the Visual Arts Center of NJ.
Park was born in South Korea and has been exploring the issues revolving around gender, ethnicity and identity using performance, video, photography, sound and site installation. Her work draws much from her experience as a journalist in Korea News Daily and Korean American Broadcasting Co. in Chicago. She has been exhibiting nationally and internationally. Her recent video work, “Perfect Asian Woman” is included in ArtDisk a DVD magazine, which was screened at two venues; Miami MOCA at Goldman Warehouse and Artificial Light 2006 during Art Basel Miami 2006. In addition, she has exhibited a collaborative interactive video installation in a group exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe in Spring 2007. She is also a recipient of artist in residency in Bemis Center for Contemporary art and Rosenquist residency at North Dakota State University in 2009. She received a MFA degree in Photography from University of New Mexico in 2007 and has taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University and St. John’s University. Currently she is an Assistant professor of Photography in Art and Design Department at Purdue University.
Posted on: 02.05.2012