Night Gallery is delighted to announce the release of A Looking Glass of, a new book of photography by Cameron Crone, designed by Steve Kado and featuring an afterword by Nilo Goldfarb. This is Crone's second publication, following 2017's In the Garden.
The images in A Looking Glass of are pieces of a composite whole, fracturing body parts from two unique statues of Ronald Reagan in Southern California—one of the former president in a suit, made by Miriam Baker in 2011 and located in Newport Beach’s Civic Center Park; the other depicts Reagan in workwear, made as a commission for the city of Temecula by Chris Pardell and unveiled at the Ronald Reagan Sports Park in 2012.
In Crone’s words: "A Looking Glass of continues my interest in the relationship between photography and sculpture. The photographs are of two Ronald Reagan statues, one in Temecula and one in Newport Beach. I was interested in looking at how images and narratives of this political figure were made concrete and broadcast into the world.”
What have you just seen? It is my job now to offer a supplement— to tell you what you saw. But more importantly, what you didn’t see. What couldn’t be shown. Yet I hesitate. I am afraid that in identifying the subject of the photographs, and in writing it into a story, I will not be able to avoid what Cameron Crone steered clear of. Namely, the filling in of the emptiness of appearances with stories. Or the emptiness in a story with another story. Such is the cultural logic that reached self-evidence in the 1980s. It is the surface of relics from this cultural logic that Crone dwells on in this work, though he grafts this surface into something else.
A body of photographs stitched together the parts and wholes of statued bodies.
The photobook unbound, the majority of the images in A Looking Glass of would detach from any known personage. They are images of conventional types: figures; body parts; expressions. One figure is a waving man in a suit. The fit of his suit is friendly rather than smart (this man would not stand out at church on Sunday). Another is a farmhand resting on his shovel, holding his hat to his rear, and gazing forward restfully. Both carry the weight of their dad bodies proudly. Standing before us in all of their touching humanity, these anonymous men are identities in wait of politics. They are ready to be filled in with our own stories.
In other images, these paternal images are reduced to part-objects: a humble dress shoe stitched with crude dashes and laced with neat, flattened coils; a crudely wrought worker’s boot; a jacket’s tail hanging to an ill-defined rear; a tie choked up on a cobwebbed gooseneck. Focus falls off at the edges or near the camera. Depth-of-field is deprived of drama. Harsh focus calcifies a detail. The boot ceases to be a foot. A pant-wrinkle becomes a nose. Form drifts into formlessness.
Crone does not compare, he synthesizes. Across spreads (and across the centerline of the human body) fragments are sutured together. Between pages they are animated. The farmhand leaning back on his spade is given a cupped right hand for his left. The palm closes on the handle of the shovel. The camera descends from hair to eyes and the lines sketched in the forehead become violent curves. The sun comes immediately out from hiding to harshen the expression. The sun goes down behind the head and the head is shit on by a bird. A shock is delivered to the hair follicles.
The sequencing is rhythmic and varied. And it is rhyming. The hollow pupil of the eye to a button and a coin. A seam to a mouth. And so on.
Beneath these rhythms made at the editing table, the tempo of the photographic shoot can be felt. Crone worked simply, allowing us to reassemble his program. We piece together that he pointed his camera at two discrete statues. Each appears to be the work of a different sculptor’s hand—the farmer is dryly impastoed, while the suited man is loosely crosshatched. (We know this to be the cause when the lines around the eyes tighten between pages. At the same time, we experience this as a trembling of the face!) The direction of shadow and light reveals that the photographer shot in the afternoon and at midday. In the back of my head is a reassembled “contact sheet.” Its narrative is a counterforce on the sequence of images in the book. Toward the back of the book, the sun sets, then rises again abruptly. Earthly time is re-ordered. The photographer behind the lens is animated along with the statues.
The photographer looks at the sculpture—looks at the sculptor. Figuration refracts. On the other side of the image is the reader. Figures multiply, as do gestures—of curiosity or sleepy fondness. Of distrust. Let us return to the book’s opening pages. There it is unmistakable: the photographer casts a permanent stare at the shoes of the man, indefinitely prolonging the insult.
Text by Nilo Goldfarb
Cameron Crone (b. 1984, Santa Ana, CA) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. He has been included in solo and two person exhibitions at Jancar Jones Gallery, Los Angeles; Golden Spike, Los Angeles; Ms. Barbers, Los Angeles; and Central Park Gallery, Los Angeles. Crone has been included in recent group exhibitions at The Fulcrum, Los Angeles; Night Gallery, Los Angeles; the Brand Art Center and Library, Glendale; and Altman Siegel, San Francisco. His work belongs in the permanent collections of Los Angels County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Harvard University; as well as other private collections. He has published two books of photographs - In the Garden, Golden Spike Press; and A Looking Glass of, Night Gallery. Crone has been profiled in Artforum, Prism of Reality, ArtSlant, and the Contemporary Art Review LA.