October 15 - November 13, 2004
"Leçons de mariage" (Marriage Lessons)

Karen Savage (Gallery One)






The starkness of black --the cool of white --and the translucent grays make the photogram sublime. It's one of the most compelling and beautiful in the world of contemporary art and photography. Karen Savage is a master of metaphorical poetry and aggressive in the execution of this medium.

Leçons de mariage translates as marriage lessons. The nuance of French is applicable here. This notion came from a book by Alice Kaplan called "French Lessons". Savage is a Francophile. Formally, there are no gray areas in French; there is always only black and white. Her desire is to make the analogy, in this body of work, to the learning of a lesson. Each photogram speaks to the idea of marriage as a cultural construct. The images represent the spectacle of the wedding -- customs are practiced and the objects are acquired in and for the domestic space, while the wedding becomes an event of the past.

These images are spectres, the residue of a set of learned social conventions: the mystique of the wedding dress, the dying anniversary bouquet, the dresser scarf that has seen better days. All of this represents the way time unravels within this union; they are portentous visual signifiers, emotionally charged and, ironically elegant.

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