Earlier this month, visitors to Southern Pine Company’s STEAM ROOM (an alternative exhibition space at 620 E 35 St.) peeled back the curtain and stepped inside a cave of blind darkness, waiting with shallow breath for the shadows of friends to appear ahead of them.
They were there to experience Trevor Poudrier’s exhibition, Fleeting, and Other Bodies.
Inside the industrial space, visitors passed under the kind of glass-and-timber ceiling that would make Wonka smile. A short walk through a thoroughfare of artist studios brought them to Poudrier’s installation, nestled in a quiet corner of Southern Pine Company’s industrial basilica.
Thanks to Poudrier’s efforts, the space has been converted into some very prime exhibition digs.
A brick wall painted charcoal gray housed thirty photographs behind black matting and black frames. The goal, Poudrier told me, was to allow the viewer’s eye to travel freely across the images, unhampered by dissonant white gallery frames. Arranged in a rhythmic cascade across the wall, their black backgrounds allowed glowing focal points to pop off of the images.
Poudrier has found his niche and he knows it. Over the last two and a half years, he’s amassed an entire body of work exploring his fascination with multiple exposure photographs and their ability to represent what he calls the “liminal nature of our consciousness.”
He’s fascinated by dreams; Poudrier grew up having night terrors–the kind of ghosts that don’t fade away when you close your eyes–and later developed the ability to lucid dream. His fascination with the permeability of physical boundaries was borne out of those experiences.
Those who viewed Poudrier’s August exhibition, Liminal, will be familiar with his specific brand of imagery–all soft focus, contrasting saturated colors and cool darkness. He calls them conceptual landscapes, photographs which stitch together time and space within the picture plane.
But Poudrier wanted to take his work further; he wanted to find a “[N]ew way of experiencing art at an existential level,” he told me.
With Fleeting, and Other Bodies, Poudrier chose to introduce a new facet to his work: the installation of a camera obscura. Viewers were invited to enter the large, shrouded installation to experience the gallery via the camera obscura phenomenon. After entering and waiting in inky blackness for several minutes, an image of the environment outside the curtains appeared across three white canvasses. Blurred, ghostly shapes slowly took the form of people walking and smiling upside down in the abyss.
“My professors were trying to get me to work through different forms of photography, but there’s still that disconnect between the body and [the viewer’s] experience,” Poudrier explained. “With the camera obscura, you’re surrounded by that darkness, it’s all-encompassing. It becomes a very personal experience.”
Viewers who tried to capture the experience on camera were thwarted–the images thrown by the camera obscura were as good as invisible to a phone lens. There would be no sharing.
“The content becomes ephemeral,” Poudrier said. “Just like how remembering your dream or projecting your consciousness is very ephemeral and personal.”
If you missed the chance to view Fleeting, and Other Bodies, don’t worry, you’ll have another chance to see Trevor Poudrier’s work in person soon. The artist will exhibit another photographic installation, PORTAL, at the STEAM ROOM on Friday, November 25 with a reception from 6 to 9pm.
To see more of Poudrier’s artwork click here.