When one of my students writes “Monet played with color” or “Rembrandt played with light,” my impulse is to correct them, insisting that artists’ deployment of formal elements and manipulation of their medium are more deliberate and thought-based than mere “play.” But Bojana Ginn’s “Liquid Lines,” at Further Art through August 20, demonstrates that “play” can be a mechanism to reveal the unexpected potential of medium and image.
Since immigrating to the United States from Serbia in 2002, Ginn has created a body of three-dimensional multimedia structures out of ephemeral materials, which she describes as “drawing in space, sound and movement.” These works are fragile, beautiful and, like humans, not made to last.
This small exhibition of nine high-gloss, 24-by-36-inch Fujiflex prints on plexiglass is a delightful departure. The works simultaneously express the transitory nature of the sculptures and fix them permanently on the plexiglass.
They are the unforeseen outcome of a storage problem. For several months after vacating her studio at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, and before she could move into her new space in the Studio Artist Program at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Ginn had to move all of her three-dimensional work to her home. She needed to work but had no space in her crowded apartment, so she acquired a Nikon D7000 camera and turned the lens on her fragile structures.
Ginn has an MFA from SCAD-Atlanta, but she had never formally studied photography. So she began to play. What she discovered were “Liquid Lines.”
The camera becomes a mechanism, like Russian filmmaker Dziga Vertov’s “kino-eye,” that objectively captures unexpected associations in nature (or in her structures) that the human eye misses. “Liquid Lines 3” resembles the poured acrylic lines of a Morris Louis “Unfurled” painting from the early 1960s, and “Liquid Lines 6” is a ghost-like image that looks like a science museum tornado demonstration.
“Liquid Lines 4” presents a flock of blurred black lines rushing forward to the left, reminiscent of the dynamic motion expressed through repetition of line in Italian Futurist Giacomo Balla’s photographically based “Flight of the Swifts” series in 1913.
Ultimately line is the basis of Ginn’s work, as she explained in a recent email: “Two-dimensional or three-dimensional, physical as installation, alive as performance, immaterial as light projection, drawing is my defining expression.” And photography is, after all, “drawing with light.”
This exploration has allowed a new form of free play to enter into Ginn’s scientifically rooted artistic process. Before becoming an artist, she earned an MD degree from the University of Belgrade Medical School and worked as a research specialist at Emory University’s Rollins Research Center, where she enhanced and optimized microscopic imagery of the neurosystem of a fruit fly for data analysis.
Her structures are conceptually based on the scientific principles of nature that form life as we know it. In her photographs, they take on a new life in two dimensions. As Stephen Nachmanovitch demonstrated in his 1990 book Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts, play awakens creativity and enables artistic discovery. The unexpected lack of studio space that inspired Ginn to play with her camera enabled her to push her structures, as drawing, to still another new place of discovery.
Dinah McClintock is an associate professor of art history at Kennesaw State University.
View a photo showing the artist and her 3-D sculpture “before” and the two dimensional image she created from it “after” here.