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V.I.P: Portraits from the Collection
June 5 through August 18, 2002
Exhibition of evocative black-and-white long-exposure photographs of botanicals and people by Berkeley photographer
The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is proud to present Marion Brenner: The Subtle Life of Plants and People, an exhibition of approximately 60 long-exposure black-and-white photographs of plants and people by Bay Area photographer Marion Brenner. This exhibition will be on view March 20 through May 26.
In this exhibition, widely published Berkeley photographer Marion Brenner presents two series of work: Botanicals and Portraits. Though different in subject matter, both series were created using the same long-exposure technique that makes Brenner's photographs so distinctive. Botanicals is a group of nearly abstract black-and-white photographs that capture the life of a variety of flowers and medicinal plants as they stir and shift during a single, long exposure ranging from two to 20 minutes in length. In Portraits, Brenner uses the same technique to photograph people, resulting in a documentation of every subtle movement of the subject, from the slightest turn of the head to the batting of an eyelash.
Brenner's botanical photography began with a 1992 project for the Marin General Hospital, for which she was asked to produce a series of postcards with images of medicinal plants used in traditional cancer treatments. The cards were to be presented to patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy at the hospital. While botanical illustration is typically associated with dead, preserved plants documented in a systematic and scientific fashion, the plants in Brenner's photographs are alive. Traces of their subtle movements over time have been captured on film, resulting in soft, almost abstract and unidentifiable images of plants and flowers. This effect also extends to Brenner's portraits, where her subjects' faces look soft and delicate, attaining an expression characteristic of nineteenth-century portraits, when a sitter was held fast for several minutes by a large-format camera.
Marion Brenner is known for her photographic series documenting the Oakland fires of 1993. She has had one-person exhibitions at the Scott Nichols Gallery, San Francisco (1993), and the Concourse Gallery, Bank of America, San Francisco (1994), as well as group exhibitions at Art & Part, Japan (1999) the Jan Kessner Gallery, Los Angeles (1996), and the Terrain Gallery, San Francisco (1996). Brenner has been published in San Francisco Examiner Magazine and on the cover of Landscape Architecture, and received a Graphics Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. Other publications include The Desert de Retz (MIT Press), Lucasfilms, Twenty Years, and Landmarks of San Francisco (both by Harry Abrams).
Sunday, March 24, 2 p.m.
Marion Brenner will discuss her distinctive long-exposure photographs of plants and people.
Tuesday, May 14 , 7:30 p.m.
Highlighting time-lapse photography and slow motion, the Pacific Film Archive will present a screening of various short films including Academy Award-winning Quicker'N A Wink (George Sidney, 1940, 10 mins, 35mm, Warner Bros.), an exquisite documentation of a bullet in flight, the flexing of a hummingbird's wings, a cat sipping milk, and other incidents too quick for the eye to perceive, and The Doddler (1932, 10 mins, 16mm), an early education film chronicling the annoying habits of the parasitic "love plant." Also showing at the PFA is Gustav Deutsch's Film Ist 1-6 (Germany, 1998), which, compiled from scientific films in extreme slow and fast motion, reveals the motion of plants, the cycle of the sun, and the movement of microbes.