by Catherine Wagley
Corina Gamma takes an unnerving look at LA recreation in her current solo exhibition at d.e.n. contemporary. A show of relatively small, sleek photographs of amusement parks could come off as a piquant gesture, especially with a whimsical title like (un)Restricted Pleasure. But Gamma’s discreet representations of carnival rides and suburban developments are compelling because of their sinister undercurrent.
Near the end of her first novel, The Voyage Out, Virginia Woolf describes light as “Unbroken by clouds” and “falling through the empty air . . . almost like a chill white frost over the sea and the earth.” The only sound is “a slight but continuous breathing which never ceased, although it never rose and never fell.” Woolf’s chilling scene, which occurs near the end of a leisure voyage turned disaster, creates a tense picture that nicely mirrors the mood of Gamma’s work.
Gamma, who does not digitally edit her images, waits until the sky is completely uninterrupted by light or clouds. Then, on the bleakest days possible, she shoots her photographs and her videos. The resulting images evoke an unbroken feeling of emptiness, despite their deceptively light and colorful subject matter. What makes the show at d.e.n. contemporary particularly unnerving is the slightly audible creaking sound coming from the videos in the back of the gallery. At first, the sound seems to be the sound of the hinges of the cars that lethargically sways back and forth in Gamma’s video, Riding the Big Ferris Wheel. But when the looped audio briefly lapses into a carnival tune and visitors realize that they are listening to a violin improvisation. The calculated nature of the creaking violin makes the exhibition take on leisure even more eerie, turning the tropes of amusement—festive rides and carnival music—into a penetratingly lonely experience.
-Catherine G. Wagley
These photographs were exhibited at D.E.N. contemporary gallery in Los Angeles and at Kenise Barnes Fine Art in Larchmont, NY.
Limited Edition Prints
Print sizes: 19 x 19 inches, 28 x 28 inches and 48 x 48 inches.