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Book of the Week: A Pick by Michael Light

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Michael Light Michael Light selects The Ground by Tate Shaw as Book of the Week.
The Ground. By Tate Shaw.
Preacher's Biscuit Books, 2013.
This week's Book of the Week pick comes from Michael Light who has selected The Ground by Tate Shaw from Preacher’s Biscuit Books.

"Tate Shaw’s The Ground left me dreaming, hovering, and blurring amidst a somber but ultimately ecstatic metaphysics of landscape and personal narrative. Arcing between coal and gas-scapes of rural Pennsylvania and Iceland’s geothermal essentialism, Shaw finds redemption in dirt and sky and the multiple horizons between.

Filled with 50-odd images and two gatefolds that redefine 'full-bleed' reproduction, Shaw pioneers a new representation midway between photography and watercolor painting, where (pigment?) color photographic prints are brushed with dissolving liquid media (water?), allowing the bleak, environmentally-interrogating document to flower into a tactile, physical gesturality that is definitely not what it seems. Seepage, flow, mold, the seasons, mud: the studio-bound artist, scribbler of notes on earthly depredation, here becomes the master manipulator of the world, re-shaping landscape and photography itself with painterly control.

Weaving quietly throughout is Shaw’s lyrical personal text narrative through two wives, time, space, and the book form, touching just enough to the imagery now and again for coherency but ranging far and wide as an independent metaphorical form. He writes of his time in Pennsylvania: 'I now know, yet struggle to fully recognize, how the place and I are mere abstractions, the miniscule design elements of an ornately patterned carpet. To remember the place and my time there is to beat this rug for memories to fly out like a cloud of dancing dust particles.' On books in general, and making them out of the world in particular, the alchemist-artist writes: 'Each of these objects of knowledge with their hope for timeless content, each leaf I have turned with a painted image, all their fibrous language, seems partially decayed and composting within me.'

Never have mixing of figure and ground, rot and mold, soil and sky, browns and greens, fossil and sexual energies composted together with such gentle majesty. Shaw’s radical new visual form is given to us with a quiet confidence that seems like simplicity, but is anything but."—Michael Light

The Ground. By Tate Shaw. Preacher's Biscuit Books, 2013.
The Ground. By Tate Shaw. Preacher's Biscuit Books, 2013.

Michael Light is a photographer, pilot and bookmaker from San Francisco. The third volume in his ongoing Inhabited West series with Radius Books, Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain, was published this Spring.

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