In the hierarchy of plastic and visual arts, photography has historically been placed at that nebulous bottom, perhaps because it has been used in service to the historical document since its inception. Photographs were supposed to “capture” reality. We use the expression “black and white” to define an either/or about reality, even though the photographic image is a translation of a world of color into tones of grey. When color was introduced it was defiled because it was “too real” . But what is “reality” anyway? And what does it have to do with vision?
Marian Roth moved to Provincetown in 1982 to fulfill a dream of living and making art in a community of creative people. She has never thought of leaving. Well-known in the world of photography for her innovative camera obscura work, Marian has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pollock Krasner Fellowship, a fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and was honored with a lifetime award for artistic excellence by PAAM. Most recently she installed a walk-in camera obscura during an exhibition of her work at the Griffen Museum of Photography. She currently exhibits in Provincetown with AMP Gallery.
Roth has said she works to present “what the eye cannot see,” and this poetic, at times elegiac, quality to her work is balanced and challenged by the insistent materiality of nearly all her pieces. Through collaged color positives, hand-coated emulsion negatives, lithographed figures, digital prints of the creative process itself, or rough layerings of paint, we can always see Roth at work. Whether from her Provincetown studio or inside one of the experimental cameras she has built and inhabited, Roth’s work, ultimately, shows the artist engaged in the most heroic of efforts: to bend light, to slow time and to exist a bit longer.