Marilyn Bridges: In the Footsteps of Alexander
Throckmorton Fine Art
April 19 – June 16, 2007
Marilyn Bridges, Avanos, Cappadocia, 2004, Gelatin Silver Print, 10 1/4 x 13 in.
Courtesy of Throckmorton Fine Art, New York
An aerial photographer equipped with a pilot’s license, Marilyn Bridges has long focused on ancient sites. Her images are black-and-white, filled with stark contrasts and rich in formal beauty. She titles her new series, which depicts various monuments of Anatolia, “In the Footsteps of Alexander.”
Anatolia is the Asiatic portion of contemporary Turkey, extending from the Bosporus and Aegean coast eastward to the Soviet Union, Iran, and Iraq. It is a land rich in water, bordering the Black, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Its ancient ruins date to the Neolithic Period, when Anatolia emerged as a center of the agricultural revolution and speedily developed into a significant center for Classical sculpture and architecture. Through the centuries, Greeks, Persians, and Romans have left their mark and the legacies of historical figures such as Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Caesar, and Cleopatra make it one of the richest archaeological sites worldwide. Magnificent ruins can be found in Siirt, Diyarbaker, and Urfa (southeastern Anatolia), Tarsus and Mersin in the Cicilian Plain, the Amuq Plain, at Catal Huyuk and Suberde (southeast of Konya), as well as Hacilar (southwestern Anatolia), and Bridges’ photographs cover more than a few.
Through her lens, the ancient monuments are transformed from breathtaking documents of ancient civilizations into distant melodies of the past. The tone is respectful and humble: a low-voiced, intense humming. The use of aerial perspective enhances the surreal quality of these vast, complex structures embedded within the landscape like an ancient footprint. In Bridges’ works, we are able to observe archaeological remains with unusual clarity. Stepping back, the various architectural elements begin to disentangle themselves like an elaborate abstract canvas. Structures appear and the choices of geographic locale become more evident. Bridges toys with contrasts. Her choice of black-and-white reinstates the classical effect of the images, making them reminiscent of early 20th Century history book illustrations, while her dramatic angles defy any static formality. Rather, Bridges opens herself to abstraction. Long, late afternoon shadows cast by columns in “Agora, Magnesia on Maeander” or by a wall fragment in “Imperial Hall, Side, Anatolia” recast architectural ruins as an intricate patchwork of mysteriously geometric shapes and natural forms. In her press release, Bridges states: “By directing the aircraft and the camera, I can make the best use of raking sunlight and shadows to coax dimension from the Earth’s surface.” By finessing the light, she wins her audience over with tales of worldly wonders just within reach.