The Royal Hibernian Academy is proud to present the exhibition Between Us by the American artist Eileen Neff. After a successful run in the Institute of Art (ICA) Philadelphia in late 2007 this exhibition, co-curated by Patrick T Murphy of the RHA & Ingrid Schaffner of the ICA, includes photographs focusing on work from the past ten years. The exhibition traces a fascinating and critical shift from the camera to the computer.
“Using the camera, the computer, and the space of the studio, Eileen Neff poetically reconstructs moments experienced outside of it.” With humour, scale and shape playing important roles in Neff’s work, “clouds move from outdoors to in. Windows appear as apertures onto completely unexpected places. The landscape doubles but does not mirror itself. A blur of motion is bifurcated by one strangely still tree. These arresting images show how unfamiliar the world can be. To cut these moments out of the flow of events and images that daily surround us, Neff uses the camera like scissors.” ICA, Philadelphia 2007.
In works such as A Planet’s Encouragement, 2007, Neff shows a serene landscape at sunset. With its painterly skyline and large trees bathed in a golden light, this absorbing image conveys a certain nostalgia and romanticism yet contrasting this, darker more ominous areas summon the foreground. Neff has been particularly influenced by the works of Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau and Wallace Stephens who uses descriptions of landscape in his poetry to reflect various states of mind. Paula Marincola, Director of the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative adds, “An earlier sense of uncomplicated beauty gives way to the uncanny and mysterious. We are held here within the landscape of the imagination, a photographic fiction as self contained and supreme as any poem.”
In Over the Hill, 2007 Neff digitally combines several roads and byways from various points intercepting them at the rise of a hill. Her imagery creates a disorientation and unpredictability reminiscent of getting lost at a fork while also provoking the pleasure one gets in choosing which road to take. In another digitally re-mastered image Anecdote of a Tree, ’99-’00, Neff interrupts the fast paced movement of the background landscape by abruptly placing a static tree trunk as if stunning the moving image. With this she creates, “The story is an impossible visible fiction superposed on a photographic illusion”. Arthur Danto, US art critic.
This book is accompanied by a full colour hard back catalogue with essays by Patrick T Murphy, Ingrid Schaffner and Jeremy Sigler.
Selection of images from the exhibition
Eileen Neff (b. 1945, Philadelphia, PA) received an MFA in painting from Tyler School of Art, a BFA in Painting from Philadelphia College of Art, and a B.A. in English Literature from Temple University. She has exhibited her photographic work nationally and internationally in galleries such as P.S. 1 in Long Island City, Carnegie Mellon Art Gallery in Pittsburgh, Artist Space, New York, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art among others. She is currently an adjunct professor in the MFA program in Painting at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, a Graduate Seminar instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and a Senior Critic in the Graduate Fine Arts Program at the University of Pennsylvania.