Windows are for ??

Shellburne Thurber
George Houston House: Green Room with Boarded Up Window, 1998
Chromogenic Print
Paper: 40 x 40 inches

I’ve been looking (only via the Internet – unfortunately would love to see one up close!) at Shellburne Thurber’s work and especially the photographs of “Home”. There is a wonderful catalogue entitled “Home: Photographs by Shellburne Thurber” published by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, 1999 which goes into some detail about the work, inspiration, references. With essays by Timothy S. McElreavy, Jill Medvedow – the stage is set for an introduction to the work.

The photograph above is a wonderful example of the devices Thurber uses to articulate a particular sense of place, in this case a “Home”. Examples such as the “door a-jar”, dialogues of opposites between the bright light and shadow splashing across old time worn floors, a plywood covered window – of which no light may enter – nor thieves… In the context of “Home” and in conjunction with the other images of the project, the images evoke more than just a sense of loss. There is, I feel, an intense other space, just outside of the room we see in the picture. That other space is suggested with either, light, shadow or some expectations to be able to “see out the window” onto somewhere else. Just what that other space may be I am unsure. At times, the windows are completely transparent, with a clear view out onto the landscape – other times the light is so blindingly intense as to be completely opaque, or more overtly, the window is simply boarded up…. All these devices – lead to a wonderful visual play on the “picture” window.


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