Cara Barer: New Work at Klompching Gallery

Art Scene

Cara Barer: New Work at Klompching Gallery

The visual possibilities of language, beyond painted pictures in the imaginations of readers, are on view in a solo show by photographer Cara Barer at Klompching Gallery. Working with pages and binding from books both found and made, Barer’s latest work exists at the intersection of sculpture and photography, and, at times, memory.

Buddha, 2018 © Cara Barer/Courtesy of Klompching Gallery, New York

Each book object in the series is photographed against a black backdrop, reminiscent of a flower when read at a distance and presented at a large scale. Other than these three unifying characteristics, Barer’s process of coiling, folding and shaping, as well as painting, inking and penciling each book’s pages, is entirely unique. Just as the corolla of a flower, its center, forms the location where its petals whorl out to the world, Barer’s pages spin out from a central curvature of the book spines she works with.

Coloring Book 2, 2018 © Cara Barer/Courtesy of Klompching Gallery, New York

A quasi-symmetry can be found in the folding and coiling styles of each of her book sculptures, becoming ever-more apparent when the images are viewed as a whole. While some pages remain more linear and others swirl more vigorously, Barer’s additional application of color to each piece adds a layer of emotional resonation found in the use of a warm, cool or mixed color palette.

Perpetual, 2017 © Cara Barer/Courtesy of Klompching Gallery, New York

Upon close inspection of the works, the literary, written, or material content of each piece is revealed. The Bible, an old school phonebook (The Yellow or White Pages), and what appears to be a text written in Sanskrit are the source material for three of the pieces. In an excursion into language as branding, the interior surface designs of bill or financial statement envelopes are used, one of which features the repetition of the JP Morgan logo. The works are also in conversation with a world moving away from the materiality of books to digital content, and, for that matter, specific books.

After the Flood, 2018 © Cara Barer/Courtesy of Klompching Gallery, New York

In a more personal instance, two of the pieces feature handwritten text. Some of it appears to be water-stained or smudged in both cursive and print. In fact, the two works are made from personal journals recovered from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. When Barer was asked to fix the books and found the task implausible, she instead turned them into sentimental objects imbued with the memory of the handwritten text as well as their moment of transformation during the hurricane, similar to broken bottles turned into smooth sea glass alchemized by the sea.

Cara Barer: New Work is on view through May 4, 2018 at Klompching Gallery.