In 2012, the RMG was gifted Solitude by Holly King. I placed the work in the permanent collection exhibition Objects May Be Closer Than They Appear, the following year. Now we have an opportunity to celebrate King’s work in a larger way with the mid-career retrospective Edging Towards the Mysterious.
Solitude is earlier than any of the work in the new exhibition. King practices mise en scène photography. Her process begins by staging her landscape settings in her studio using various props and materials. She then photographs the theatrical fabrications—the end result is the creation of “imaginary landscapes that hover between reality and fiction.” In Solitude, a horizon line helps to differentiate the dominating sky and the water. Two small islands, made of found foliage, are surrounded by the immense, never ending blue sky and water, giving, as the title suggests, a sense of remoteness. The island’s remoteness prompts thoughts of untouched/unexplored nature—a welcomed retreat. However, the materiality of the staged setting in this photograph—the painterly quality of the sky and the foliage used to suggest land—reminds the viewer of the artificiality of the waterscape. King’s sharp focus photography does not allow the viewer to mistake the landscape as real, but encourages instilling their own personal experiences through their memories and imagination with both the objects used and the constructed environment. The tension between illusion and reality in King’s work becomes a journey for the viewer to explore.
– Senior Curator Linda Jansma