Ghost Galleries

“Ghost Galleries” is an ongoing and recent series of speculative photographs of gallery and museum spaces in which the exhibited art has been erased, leaving a few spectral traces and highlighting the gallery itself as the object of contemplation. The erasure process that I use creates the aura of a computer-generated architectural simulation, exposing yet another ghost: the ideal space that underlies the fetishization of the White Box.

In some of these photographs, such as Ghost Gallery #7 (which was included in the invitational exhibition “Professor Dialogues” at I-5 Gallery in Los Angeles in 2010), the erasures have been carried out in such a way that new elements arise, causing the images to shift into a terrain between photography and painting.

I choose the spaces for this series somewhat by chance, when I find myself more intrigued by the space I am than by the art that fills it. An obvious question: why not just photograph the gallery when it is empty? For one thing, gallery lighting is adjusted for specific arrangements of objects or installations and thus can vary quite radically from that of the empty space. The lighting setup offers a kind of crude reflection of the installed objects and—once the objects are erased in my images—a subtle pointer to their prior existence.

For another thing, empty galleries (like empty houses) have a tabula rasa quality: we take them to be waiting to be filled. And that expectation is in part our way around the haunted quality of these empty spaces, our knowledge of their histories of sequential erasures inflicted in the passage of time. We don’t like to acknowledge that moment when the show is over, the work packed up, the people gone. By focusing the “Ghost Galleries” on the removal of the art—even though an artificial removal—I mean to draw attention back to the tenuous relationship between art and context, object and space, image and presence.