Arielle Bobb-Willis: Ever-Lucid at Medium Tings

Art Scene

Arielle Bobb-Willis: Ever-Lucid at Medium Tings

In a series of photographs that explore color and the human body as sculpture, photographer Arielle Bobb-Willis mines a psychic space of healing through performative photographic images. On view at Medium Tings, a small Brooklyn-based arts incubator/gallery space, the images elegantly synthesize the healing qualities of a joyful color palette with attentively choreographed subjects. There is a synergy and seriousness that Bobb-Willis shares with her subjects that is palpable.

Arielle Bobb-Willis, NYC 01, 2016

In all of the images, the performers’ faces are obscured by fabric or other objects. The de-emphasis of the face as a way to present a subject calls for an abstract engagement with the bodies on view. Contemporary dance, yoga postures, or even the embrace of lovers paused in time, may come to mind. The body seems to act as an instrument in each image telling a poetic narrative than can only be sensed. The geometry of the poses in the photographs is highlighted by the color blocking of their wardrobe styling. Patterns are entirely absent from the series except for a row of colored popsicle sticks that function as a mask in one image.

Arielle Bobb-Willis, New Jersey 02, 2017

The dominant color palette in the series favors warm tones – pink, yellow, orange – while cool tones in shades of blue and green offer an effective counterpoint. The images could be described as vibrantly minimal. Urban landscapes and the built environment act as backdrops. Parts of walls, sidewalks and rooftop surfaces are used in several cases. Unobstructed sunlight is consistent throughout many of the images, adding to the rich saturation of colored clothing worn by Bobb-Willis’ troupe of performers.

Arielle Bobb-Willis, Chicago, 2017

Certain pieces of clothing stretched tautly over faces and body parts are reminiscent of straight jackets used to control or subdue the body. However, in the case of Bobb-Willis’ conceptualization, the constriction is in part self-imposed. A sense of disorientation is achieved in a couple of the photographs that play with orientation and perception through a use of props – complicating the question of agency or lack of agency found in the bodies of Bobb-Willis’ subjects.

Arielle Bobb-Willis, Brooklyn 01, 2016

About half of the photographs on view feature a single person, while others feature two. The images that unite two subjects feature a variety of shared embraces, suggesting a longing, need, battle or comfort found in human connection. Much of what is conveyed in Bobb-Willis’ work is intentional. Part of the motivation behind her photographic process is grounded in a response to her own personal history battling depression.                                                                                        

Arielle Bobb-Willis: Ever-Lucid, is on view at Medium Tings on Sundays and by appointment through April 1, 2018.