John Divola: Dark Star series

John Divola (American, b. 1949), Dark Star F, 2008, archival pigment print on rag paper, 40 x 50 in., © John Divola. Courtesy Gallery Luisotti, Los Angeles

OMAHA—Born in California in 1949, John Divola has disrupted traditional expectations about photography for the past forty years. Featuring six works from his 2008 series, Dark Star, this compact installation touches on the central themes of the artist’s practice, capturing Divola’s interventions — in this case, discs he spray painted on the walls of abandoned homes outside of Los Angeles — in a series of haunting images.

At once blatantly straightforward and disarmingly mysterious, the title Dark Star suggests an overpowering astronomical mass; a theoretical star whose gravitational force is so strong it traps the light it emits. By assigning these images sequential letters rather than titles (A, B, C . . . ), Divola further implies the sense of anonymous, distant suns, perhaps one of thousands catalogued by scientists at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, near his home in Southern California. Their shifting scale and position within each room amplify the curious sense of space, some constrained by closets, others expanding across empty walls, each “sun” differing in size and its distance from the camera. Dark Star F, with a small red “planet” seemingly locked into orbit, becomes a schematic solar system. For all of their mystery and foreboding, however, these photographs ultimately become meditative, the minimalist simplicity of Divola’s forms giving way to subtle variations of light and surface.

On view at Joslyn’s Riley CAP Gallery February 3 through May 6, John Divola is included in free general Museum admission. Riley Contemporary Artists Projects Gallery exhibitions are supported in part by Terry & Catherine Ferguson, Sara Foxley, and Polina & Bob Schlott.

John Divola (American, b. 1949), Dark Star B, 2008, archival pigment print on rag paper, 40 x 50 in., © John Divola. Courtesy Gallery Luisotti, Los Angeles

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