spectacular scenes from inside the earth
Ryan McGinley has spent the last four summers traveling the United States with friends, keeping a travel log in photographs that have been exhibited in Europe and New York. This time, the outdoor snapshots are gone and McGinley has pulled his clan underground on treacherous shoots in the cold, dim caves of North America. Inspired by The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Journey to the Center of the Earth and illustrations in children’s books and biblical stories, McGinley rejected commercial caves and plunged into America’s vast ‘Wild Caves,’ some of them previously undocumented, to shoot stunning photographs in vivid color, where the rock formations are as prominent as the nude subjects. Twenty-four color photographs from the excursions will be exhibited in Moonmilk, his forthcoming solo show at the Alison Jacques Gallery in London, which will also be his first solo show in the UK. The title refers to the mineral deposits on the cavern walls, once believed to have been formed by light from celestial bodies, penetrating the earth to create underground skies on the rock face.
“There is something prehistoric about a cave that makes one feel comfort and impending doom all in one breath,” McGinley said of his latest ‘journey.’ McGinley took risks not only with his camera to produce brilliant photos in the caves’ limited lighting, but also ran into physical danger, as the 8 hour shoots took place on clay-slick, uneven surfaces and fallen rubble sometimes high above the cavern’s floor. As an added challenge, some of the usually dusty, 50-degree chambers are so cold they contain ice year round, yet the photographer’s human subjects remained nude for the pictures.
At age 24, in 2003 Ryan McGinley made a name for himself as the youngest artist to have a solo show at the Whitney and, after other innumerable accolades, at 31 he has already been called the greatest photographer of his generation. This show is truly a testament to McGinley’s talent and innovation as an artist behind the lens and the September 10 opening will coincide with the release of a book of his latest photographs.
Ryan McGinley – Moonmilk
Opens privately September 10, 2009 6 to 8 PM
Open to the public September 11 to October 8
Alison Jacques Gallery
16-18 Berners St
London, W1T 3LN