Aperture Magazine

The magazine of photography and ideas

Adam Ekberg's "Orchestrating the Ordinary" at ClampArt

A closer look at photographs in a new exhibition of Adam Ekberg's work by writer Gabriel H. Sanchez.

 - February 10, 2015

Adam Ekberg’s first solo exhibition in New York, “Orchestrating the Ordinary,” presents a collection of sixteen recent photographs that depict surprising, brief moments in time rendered in vivid large format. He stages what he describes as “minor spectacles,” by pointing mirrors toward mirrors, flashlights to flashlights, to create a variety of hypnotic lighting situations in otherwise mundane spaces. Cool and calculated, the images also wear a thin lining of humor.

Ekberg’s images showcase the unique qualities of different kinds of light and matter. In the photograph Candle, mirrors, and laser, 2014, a solitary candle illuminates the wooden table it sits on and a nearby mirror. From outside the frame, a red laser beam cuts through the darkness aimed directly into the mirror’s reflection, dividing the beam into geometrical cross-sections. The two types of light contrast with and complement each other. Elsewhere, in Aberration #8, 2006, and Eclipse, 2012, Ekberg trains his eye on the most vital light source—he made both photographs by pointing the camera directly into the sun. A lens flare appears as a result in both images, and with it, a spectrum of hues unfolds across the frame.

Other photographs fetishize light even further. In A disco ball on the mountain, 2005, a mirrored orb is hung incongruously in a dark and snowy forest, appearing to explode from the inside out; in Outpost #1, 2011, the photographer finds a string of patio lights strewn over a flowing river at dusk. Other works discover formal beauty in the properties of liquid: in the case of Occurrence #2, 2012, it’s spilt milk, evoking the iconic 1957 photograph by Harold Edgerton. One huge splash leaps from its cup and off a vacant dining room table, frozen in time by Ekberg’s camera, a spectacle that might otherwise pass unnoticed.

“Orchestrating the Ordinary” runs through February 14, at ClampArt in New York City.