by Jen Graves
on Wed, Feb 9, 2011 at 9:34 AM
A couple Friday mornings ago I found myself in Platform Gallery talking to a crew of really smart high school kids about Adam Ekberg's show—and the best part was that Adam Ekberg (based in Tampa) was there, too. It's a strong little show, a little darker than Ekberg's past showings (you might remember him from his series of rainbow lens flares in the woods).
This new series is more down-at-the-mouth, more the product of a fallen state of affairs. The image the gallery used on its advertising was shot in an abandoned house where winter has set in. There are two chairs facing each other across the room; on each is a flashlight, pointed to light up the other, creating thick, dark shadows of the chairs on the walls and a force field of light in the center of the picture, where the flashlights meet. Creaky, creepy, after. A perfectly plain and ridiculous scheme of illumination conjures a mystery. (Bad photography works the other way: A mysterious lighting source falling on a subject offers an overdetermined allegory, a parody of mystery.)
The arsonist has already been here.
The show is called The Arsonist's Shadow, and guess what? The arsonist is real. In talking to the high school students, Ekberg explained that when he was a kid, his house was burned to the ground by a serial arsonist.
This arsonist would stay at the crime scene and watch his buildings burn. When he was caught, it was because of photography. His was the only face detectives found in all the crowd scenes afterward.
Now take another look at Ekberg's images—at the combination of shadows, light, fire (from Bic lighters), mystery, and photography. You have through Saturday.