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FOREWORD We are very privileged to present Suzette Bross: Walks. The images in this exhibition represent the continuation of themes that have been at the center of her work for the past twenty years. Bross’ photographs force us to consider the time between events and the spaces between our destinations. Taken in both public and private forums, the series is both extremely personal and broadly universal. The results is a body of work that reads as a complex chronological mediation on modern life. Allison Grant describes the work, saying: “Bross expertly expresses a complex account of what it means to navigate the small journey’s of daily life.” We would like to thank our family, friends and supporters who have made this exhibition possible. We also extend our appreciation to Allison Grant for her exceptional essay that accompanies the show; and to Andrew Green, who assisted in the catalogue composition. Above all, we are grateful to Suzette. We can’t thank her enough for her generous spirit, all that she has done and for the exceptional works that you will see in this exhibit.

Dolly and Jack Geary

WALKS ALLISON GRANT Deep reflection often occurs at moments that appear outwardly mundane. The spaces between obligations and scheduled appointments—the commute, the line at a checkout, a walk around the neighborhood, or a midday coffee—serve as intervals when the body is kept busy enough with routine tasks to allow the mind to ruminate on more profound aspects of life. The quotidian nature of routine makes it a grounding force in life: a rhythm that allows the waking mind to move into spontaneous, enigmatic dreaming. Artist Suzette Bross uses routines from her daily life to create contemplative artworks that elevate the mundane time spent commuting or wandering into moments of essential importance to the human psyche. Her photographs contain identifiable subject matter; however, the camera is not used in service of faithful documentation, but rather it is used to describe experiences of interiority and to consider how the mind wanders in relation to external visual stimulus. Specifically, Bross works within the patterns and rhythms that occur as she moves from place to place, as is evident in her recent series Walks (2012–2014). In precisely-aligned grids of photographs taken from waist level looking down at the ground, the artist documents walks step-by-step as she traverses pathways, city streets, hallways, and building interiors. The textures of the terrain she crosses never fully conform to the rigid logic of her photographs’ gridded sequencing. Dizzying patterns emerge where the geometry of an environment appears to continually morph beneath her feet, seemingly in sync with her own internal thoughts.

In Michel de Certeau’s book The Practice of Everyday Life, a chapter titled “Walking in the City” describes the immersive experience of walking through urban space as a process of invention where the body navigates a complex composition designed by industrial forces far larger than the individual. The bodies of those who walk he argues, “follow the thicks and thins of an urban ‘text’ [which] they write without being able to read.”i Here he emphasizes the agency of the individual as an author of her own path, invented on the fly while moving in a sea of intricate passageways that embody their own logic—a sentiment picked up in Bross’s photographs. As a series, the works in Walks frame the dynamic interplay of body, mind, and surroundings that accompanies the process of finding one’s way. The optical bends and spatial confusion in each neatly organized artwork is a nod to the elasticity of the lone walker’s movements that bend around a more rigid, encircling world. Devoid of familiar points of orientation, such as a horizon line or recognizable landmark, the works prevent viewers from lingering on the familiar. Without points of orientation, Bross leaves viewers to ruminate on the density of individualized experiences available within a single route. Throughout the project, Bross’s feet appear over and over amid routine movements that contain the accompanying stress, dreaming, and drifting that fill the gaps between a starting point and destination. So often, in the technologically connected present, in-between moments such as these become occasions to escape the mundane and divert attention to a smartphone. Always at arm’s length, screens and the networked worlds they contain have become stitched into the fabric of human consciousness. Photography, too, has become instantaneously accessible via tiny phone cameras that allow users to halt and mediate the surrounding world, and make it more legible as it is removed from the turbulence and

inconsistency of the real. Ever mindful of these realities, Bross opted to use her camera phone to make the photographs in Walks as opposed to using the more sophisticated optics available in high-end cameras. This decision renders her images in at least two important ways. Held at waist level, Bross’s phone is positioned in precisely the location where it is often found as one walks while multitasking. From this perspective, the camera moves along with the body and is wrapped into the flow of navigation and perception. Rather than working in slow and calculated ways, Bross’s process integrates her photographic device into the swirling and darting energy of her own movements, allowing her to remain enmeshed in the process of walking and thinking, rather than stopping to pause for reflection. Additionally, the hazy, granular quality of cellphone photography lacks crisp definition and therefore lends itself to describing consciousness as constantly shifting and ungraspable in its entirety. Rather than isolating, simplifying, and controlling specific aspects of space in singular pictures, the multiple, time-based images in Walks transcend static description and use imprecision to animate the constant perceptual fluctuations that mark bipedal movement. Walks builds upon Bross’s previous series Commute (2001–2003), which similarly mines her own emotional stratum using photographs that were captured with a Nikon Coolpix, one of the earliest hand-held consumer digital cameras. The series includes pictures of water towers, roadways, chain link fences, street signs, and other common roadside scenes in slightly blurred images that are reminiscent of passing glimpses. Each work is taken through a car window with a point-and-shoot camera that, similar to Walks, allows the artist to remain in a faraway state of dreaming rather than pulling herself into full concentration to create highly composed pictures. Across both series, Bross expertly expresses a complex account

of what it means to navigate the small journeys of daily life. She weaves introspection into a medium that is typically used to point outward, and in doing so, allows her personal experiences to become opportunities for reflection on the importance life’s mundane routines. Commuting, wandering, and drifting are activities bound by life’s more dramatic events; however, as Bross asserts, they contain important moments of dynamic contemplation. Allison Grant Assistant Curator, Museum of Contemporary Photography

i De

Certeau, Michel. “Walking in the City.” The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkley and Los Angeles: U of California, 1984. 93. Print.


Walk 7/24/14 Lake Side, Michigan (5:38:09-5:40:05pm)

Walk 6/14/14 Forbidden 1, Boston (1:12:35-1:16:51pm)

Walk 6/14/14 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Garden, Boston (12:28:53-12:31:34pm)

Walk 3/23/14 One Allen Center, Houston (12:20:54-12:24:06pm)

Walk 6/20/14 Mirabel, France (6:12:25-6:13:25pm)

Walk 5/1/14 After Eloise, NYC (5:06:32-5:07:58pm)

Walk 5/3/14 Friend with Orange Bag, NYC (5:08:14-5:11:54pm)

Walk 3/22/14 Winter Street Studios, Houston (6:40:27-6:41:35pm)

Walk 6/28/14 Soccer Practice, Chicago (1:03:38-1:05:23pm)

Walk 9/22/13 To Church, Chicago (9:19:48-9:23:17am)

Walk 7/29/14 Vail Mountain (10:36:29-10:39:40pm)

Walk 1/20/13 Snowstorm, Tuileries Garden, Paris (5:35:21-5:56:46pm)

Walk 2/3/14 Division Street, Chicago (5:29:54-5:30:53pm)

Walk 2/5/14 Astor Street, Snowstorm, Chicago (9:11:40-9:12:38am)

Walk 2/5/14 Rush & Chestnut, Snowstorm, Chicago (9:20:32-9:21:41am)

Walk 2/6/14 MoMA, New York (3:54:44-3:55:49pm)

Walk 2/7/14 Brooklyn Museum, New York (2:01:03-2:02:00pm)

Walk 2/25/13 Division Street, Dunkin Donuts, Chicago (3:00:31-3:01:27pm)

Walk 2/25/13 Mariano Park, Chicago (2:57:31-2:58:27pm)

Walk 2/25/13 Rush Street, Chicago (2:51:54-2:52:36pm)

Walk 3/12/14 Stud Horse Point, Utah (2:41:16-3:12:34pm)

Walk 3/28/13 Purple Nikes, California (3:14:51-3:17:05pm)

Walk 3/28/13 Palm Desert, California (8:25:36-8:26:15am)

Walk 5/23/13 Art Institute of Chicago (11:03:46-12:15:59pm)

Walk 5/28/13 After Lunch with Kristi & Tash, State Street, Chicago (2:17:33-2:19:40pm)

Walk 6/15/13 Errands, State Street, Chicago (2:54:24-2:56:04pm)

Walk 7/9/13 St. Georges Motel, France (8:23:14-8:25:24pm)

Walk 9/20/13 EXPO, Chicago (1:48:35-2:18:49pm)

Walk 3/23/14 Forbidden 2, Houston (6:35:49-6:40:50pm)

ABOUT THE ARTIST Suzette Bross is a photographer living and working in Chicago, Illinois. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, The National Gallery of Art, DC, Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, The New Mexico Museum of Art, the Block Museum, Mass College of Art in Boston, and more. With an MFA from the Institute of Design at IIT, Bross has taught at Columbia College Chicago,the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and the Northwestern University Medical School. Her work has been exhibited internationally and across the United States. Bross was commissioned by Northwestern Memorial Hospital to create a permanent portrait series of Chicago women (2007).

Profile for Suzette Bross

Suzette Bross  

Suzette Bross