Sarah Pollman writes about the intersection of contemporary art and its historical counterparts. She has produced essays for online and print journals including Art New England and Big, Red & Shiny, as well as writing essays for self-published artist monographs.
Art New England
Sarah contributes to the arts journal Art New England.
New Futures: Examining a Pictured Past
Art New England, Volume 40, Issue 6
Excerpt: In a disconnected and increasingly digital world, the material objects of the past - books, papers, photographs - can create nostalgia for a narrative that maybe never existed. Paper photographs and written texts fill archives that become the physical manifestations of stories left behind. The 21st century’s explosion of digital communication has further splintered these previously held visions of American life. Disparate stories and new narratives emerge, evident in the work of three New England artists who are involved in interrogations of these archives and narratives.
The Shifting Meaning of Pictures
Art New England, Volume 37, Issue 1
Excerpt: Photographs surround us. They live inside our handheld telephones and tablets; they are disseminated in perpetuity across social media; they demand our attention in advertisements. In our contemporary world, photography is at an apex where its sheer ubiquity has rendered it invisible. Paper snapshots of the past are shuttled into shoeboxes in favor of digital codes that represent images on screens, which likewise get shuffled past us into file folders and our computer’s caches. Today, digital reigns.
Art New England, Volume 36, Issue 5
Excerpt: Deriving from the artist’s commercially trained background at the New England School of Photography, the text references the glowing neon of advertising signs and the flickering of television ads. In each instance, the language traces both contemporary and historical discriminatory thought patterns, setting up an uncomfortable dichotomy between the anonymity of the portrait sitters, whom look just like anyone you might meet on the street, and the perniciousness of language that most of us do not pause long enough to consider....
Sarah has been a contributor to the arts journal Big, Red & Shiny.
Landing at Zero
Big, Red & Shiny, Volume 2, Issue 10
Excerpt: Bruce Myren’s The Fortieth Parallel is a project of western depiction. Rooted in history, it takes cues from historic survey projects and their subsequent rephotographic cousins, Ed Ruscha’s explorations of buildings on Sunset Strip and the New Topographers’ unromantic views of the west. It is an exploration of how to picture the land when the land has already been pictured: a conversation with the past designed to teach us about our present….
Big, Red & Shiny, Volume 2, Issue 19
Excerpt: By using detritus that alludes to this history, the artist is in dialogue with a past riddled with slave trade and abuse. The cultural tensions that arise from colonialism express themselves in the sculptures through competing graphic shapes that are folded into and on top of each other. Sometimes, they are woven directly together Each aluminum scrap is bound to another aluminum scrap. Flattened and twisted, their shapes and meanings have been transformed, but not erased ….
1914: Magnus Plessen at the Rose Art Museum
Big, Red & Shiny, December, 9, 2014
Excerpt: Portraiture has always sought to represent its subjects as lifelike as possible, here purposely subverting itself to cover political wounds and return faces to a static representation of what they 'ought' to be. Moreover, our identities are as much constructed by invisible lines, drawn by our societies to delineate what we will and will not look at, as by the images we actually see.
Introduction to Sense of Place by Mikhael Antone
Excerpt: Kodak introduced the snapshot, allowing us to record our lives, and in the process, create images that could continue to haunt us. The 1960s and ‘70s introduced a certain kind of documentary photography, whereby “truth” is reflected backwards into the lens. But Antone's images are neither snapshot nor document. Rather, they represent constructions of one individual’s perceptions…..
Introduction to Camera Records in Time, Volume 4
Excerpt: Sometimes, looking at photographs gives me the sensation of drowning. Meaning pulls apart like the frayed rubber of an elastic band, seeming to separate but then snapping together deftly to show no signs of being stretched. Reality fissures and splits when it is documented. The camera records, but the photographer makes notations….
Exhibition essay and interview for John Steck Jr. for Exhibition Catalog with the Hallway Gallery.
Pictures of You echoes the tragedy we all feel when a loved one is reduced to a simple box: of pictures, of clothes, of their ultimate absence from our lives ....
Sarah has been a contributor to the arts journal Ain't Bad.
Ain't Bad Magazine, December 5, 2012
Excerpt: Moving between portraits, still-lives and landscapes, cascading light functions as a unifying element. Tracing the blades of grass in a field and the curving neck of a slaughtered duck, the use of light borrows from the aesthetics of Dutch genre painting, chronicling the everyday.
Ain't Bad Magazine, January 9, 2013
Excerpt: While the building awaits an uncertain fate, Noritaka Minami documents it with his large format camera. This tool provides a static, scientific and academic experience of looking and analyzing. Coupled with careful framing, the photographs minimize the appearance of the artist and reveal thoughtful combinations of images that function as a document of this structure.
Ain't Bad Magazine, March 13, 2013
Excerpt: This is a method rooted in history: cumbersome and difficult, it passed out of favor with the invention of film. Emaleh returns to her roots, both geographically as a native of South Florida and metaphorically as a photographer, in order to resurrect a dying ecosystem and photographic methodology. The resultant images show a deep love and admiration for a strange and beautiful environment born out of a desire for preservation.
A collaboration with Jim Dow for the November 26, 2012 Colloquium No Dust in the Digital Archive? at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
The various iterations of Allie Mae Borroughs reveal little about the photographs themselves. Instead they demarcate a range of methodologies of collection, reproduction, curation and appropriation of imagery from a variety of archive sources…