Between a Banana and a Mouse

Mac Adams, Empty Space, MouseThe photographer/conceptual artist Mac Adams references the Buddhist concept of interconnectedness when he speaks of his series “Empty Spaces,” which he envisioned in the mid-1990s. He grouped together disparate objects and shone a light from a single source. The shadow the cluster of items cast disclosed an actuality that was at once unexpected and familiar: a bird or a rabbit, a cat or a moth. A banana, a rock and a rope suddenly became a prostrated mouse.

What happens in the space between ‘what we know exists’ and ‘what we see’ has driven the imagination of this internationally acclaimed, Welsh-born American artist from early on.

Starting out in the sixties, he produced one installation after another that spoke of the aftermath of a physical encounter—a bed torn apart, a chair knocked over, things scattered across the rug on the floor. Adams later turned these three-dimensional scenarios into photographs, ‘meticulously staged.’ He moved on to creating diptychs and triptychs with shots hinting at probable acts of violence, before and after—part Weegee, part Cindy Sherman so it seems; and on to capturing similar images reflected in shiny surfaces of teapots and mirrors. Regardless, however, of the approach, he left the fuller narrative just off the page; he left his viewer-voyeur to fill in the blanks, to interpret the crime.

Adams’s “Empty Spaces” series is no different in the ambiguity it engenders. He writes, “These shadows, when projected, create a disjunction between the traditional concept of form and content as a unified ideal, and begin to suggest other parallel phenomena existing as an illusion.”[1]

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[1] Schwartz Art Collection, Harvard University.

Additional sources: GB Agency, Paris; Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Luxembourg.

(Image: B&W photograph, 1997, silver print, 34 x 22 cm, Collection du Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, reproduced for non-commercial use only.)


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