This book is the result of the third Bard Lugo Land Residency, a collaboration between Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and the Lugo Land project, based in the northern Italian town of Lugo. "More than just defying the idea of a photographic ‘moment,’ [Emma Ressel's] photographs share the studious, meditative feeling of Baroque still life paintings. Even her images of rooms — places of human activity, implied by the presence of a cheery fire, disarranged chairs, or a live television — take on the timeless and uncanny quality of the unpeopled, parallel worlds that those earlier painters constructed so convincingly. Part of the kinship is found in Ressel’s attention to the formal properties of the composition. Formalism, the aesthetic theory that meaning and intelligence are invested in an artwork’s line, shape, color, volume, and composition, is a relatively new idea. Back in 1771, writing his Discourses on Art, Sir Joshua Reynolds was dismissive of the “humbler” profession of the still life painter (such was the notion that Man’s deeds were more important than Nature’s objects), but he emphasized the consequently greater importance of what we now call formal elements. “The art of colouring, and the skillful management of light and shadow, are essential requisites in his confined labors,” he observed, because for the still life painter, “these pretty excellences are here essential beauties; and without this merit the artist’s work will be more short-lived than the objects of his imitation.” Ressel’s work is filled with ‘pretty excellences,’ but it is backed by a wry malevolence and a deceptive wit. In fact, the beauty of these compositions, filled with a sense of light and air and succulent color that belongs only to photography, endows them with the fascination of the Trojan Horse: it’s the gift that we happily accept on first sight, only to discover that we’ve let in something just a little bit nasty..." Laurie Dahlberg

Emma Ressel Olives in the street

Curated by Tim Davis, Francesco Neri
and Luca Nostri
Designed by Filippo Nostri
with a text by Laurie Dahlberg
and a text by Francesco Neri and Luca Nostri
48 pages, 17 color plates
32,5 × 28 mm
Softbound softcover
Co-published by Edizioni del bradipo
and Bard College, 2017

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