Rita Leduc: As a means to re-sensitize place in a society deprived of environmental empathy, my work conflates physical, perceptual, and psychological boundaries. For the non-human, animate world, the environment is porous and boundary-free. These organisms view their world as an extension of themselves; they are interconnected; the parts are the whole. Empathy is employed and reciprocity results. Inspired by these creatures, my search is for a boundary-less presence where the participants – be they gestures on paper or objects in a space – engage and understand rather than simply coexist. This holistic understanding of place is the first step to recognizing our interdependence.
The featured work is from PLAYA, a recently completed residency in Oregon’s High Desert. An untouched, crackled field of dust and rock with visibility severely cut off due to the preponderance of wildfire smoke, the landscape both rejected foreigners and – with its hot pink sunrise and blood orange moon – called to them for help.
Image 01 (featured) is part of a series where I staged a group of paper rocks attempting to assimilate into the playa, the residency’s namesake dried-up saltwater basin. Made at the start of my time at the residency, the rocks became both an initial offering to the land and an intermediary before I directly applied my own hand.
Once my relationship with this breathtaking but at-risk land solidified, the anomaly of the end-of-summer heat wave / smoke cloud grew clearer. Image 02 (left) is an Integrated Photograph, a process wherein I secure a frame stretched with clear acetate somewhere on location. I then improvise a composition on and around the acetate by responding instinctively to the site through painting, drawing, and material. Once complete, I take a photograph, aligning the marks on the film with the fore- and background. The resulting hybrid photographs conflate the space, visualizing an equalized moment between added marks, environment, and vantage point. The Integrated Photographs at PLAYA became the visual documentation of my conversation with the land about the wildfire smoke: how it cast a grey-blue shadow over the earth, cultivated fluorescent colors of warning and danger, weighed down the sky, and littered the land.
If the goal of the Integrated Photographs is to depict a conflation between my own marks and those of the environment, the Reveals (right image) uncover the heartbreaking humanity of this attempt. Zoomed-out documentary photographs of the installations created for the Integrated Photographs, the Reveals show the instability, temporality, and intrusive nature of the installations. Further, by shifting the scale of that which is viewed from inside the frame, they divulge the wider environmental context, exposing the specificity and narrow-mindedness of my own perspective.
All images credit and copyright, Rita Leduc.
(Featured Image) Title: Playa: Blue Rock Intro II. Date: 2017. Size: 24 x 15 inches. Medium: digital photograph
(Left) Title: 09.01.17 Playa (Grass Dots). Date: 2017. Size: 32 x 29 inches. Medium: Digital photograph (of temporary, on-site installation).
(Right) Title: Reveal: 08.31.17 Playa (Trifecta). Date: 2017. Size: 20 x 16 inches. Medium: digital photograph (of temporary, on-site installation).