Baxter St at CCNY is pleased to present the exhibition A MECCA BLUR, work by Ryan Foerster, curated by Allen Frame.
In a wide-ranging practice that includes sculpture, installation, photography, posters, zines, and chemigrams, Foerster has often transformed discarded materials found in the everyday environment into art objects full of humour and visual surprise. Through the act of collecting, recycling, and repurposing, he has devised ways to avoid waste and create magic from materials at hand.
The chemigrams that Foerster calls Compost Prints originated in his backyard in Brighton Beach between 2011-2014. At the time he worked as a lab technician (at CCNY) where he would clean the color processor by running unexposed paper through the machine. Once exposed, the paper would be black. He would recycle that paper in backyard experiments, where the chemical reactions to weather and objects used to hold down the paper, such as flower pots, rocks, earth and compost, would erode the paper, removing some of the black surface and revealing underlying color.
He would also take expired (but unexposed) color paper left behind by members to create painterly abstract images with a vivid color ground. After exposing the paper to the elements over time, he would hose it off to clean it before running it through the chemistry of the color processor. The resulting images would have large areas of red or green, depending on the paper manufacturer (green for Kodak, red for Fuji).
In his earlier diaristic, snapshot-style work, he used the simplest means to capture images, a 35mm point-and-shoot camera with an on-camera flash. In creating his Compost Prints, he was also sticking to basics but relying now on chance for a dazzling array of effects, colors, and compositions.
In addition to a selection of Compost Prints, the exhibition includes a video from 2005 of Foerster walking along the edge of the East River at night, capturing images of rocks and debris with his still camera and on-camera flash. A poster from 2012 salvages the alignment tests made during the printing process of one of his zines. Two recent prints from 2018-2019 use open source clipart digitally layered over his own photographs, as a way of using other artist’s free work to complicate his own. A recent skeletal sculpture demarcates an installation niche containing an array of pieces.
Allen Frame is a photographer and writer based in New York. He recently curated three photo exhibitions in Rome at the not-for-profit space ACTA International and wrote one of the essays for the book, The Life and Times of Alvin Baltrop, which accompanies the current Baltrop exhibition at the Bronx Museum. He teaches at Pratt Institute, School of Visual Arts, and the International Center of Photography.