Review - Falling Boundaries at the Old Schoolhouse Gallery 2022
Falling Boundaries, a review
Ph.D. Art Education, University of Oregon
August 5, 2022, cortesisland.com
The photographic art of David Ellingsen requires thinking as well as looking. My favorite kind of art.
There is an eerily understated presence of absence in the work, and in the gallery space itself. David’s body of work is about loss but also about family, about a language of destruction, but also about a tenacious will to survive — both human and forest.
Three photographs in particular helped me focus my thinking and looking, because of their demonstration of visual concepts.
BALANCE: The notion that marks can be felt as well as seen. There is remarkable tension in Spar for the Last, as the visual balance among the spars in the sky is a force as strong as the sensation of gravity pulling the viewer’s eye through the dangerous tangle of standing timber. Nowhere is safe.
REPETITION: The repeating of colour, tone, shape, texture, size, direction—either exactly or with variety. The repetition in A Clearing, of horizontal stacks of logs moved by horse, train and tractor, visually shifts a complex snarl of log forms that feel impossible to align. Everything is effort.
DOMINANCE: The rule of a superior force. The visual force in Falling Boundary is colour. A thin red line connecting a falling boundary ribbon to a blue X marking a tree to be taken. The ability to make a mark is dominance. Yet I think David is asking, can more than one kind of mark be equally dominant?
After being in the gallery space several times, it is the presence of absence I notice most. What becomes of all this taken wood? Two wooden chairs. Clearings in the forest become open space between groupings of photographs.
The repetition of generations becomes an echo.