Thursday, September 20, 2012

Rhona Bitner: Images from the Series LISTEN

Rhona Bitner, Electric Lady Studios, New York, NY
November 9, 2007, Color Coupler print mounted on aluminum, 40" x 40"

In her latest series of photographs, LISTEN, Rhona Bitner images the iconic spaces of American music. Continuing her photographic investigations into the experience of performance, spectacle and theater, Bitner began a journey to create a visual recording of the studios, arenas, clubs and theaters that rocked American popular culture through the twentieth century and remain part of our collective memory today. The artist weaves between famed and forgotten sites, from the lofty ceilings of Electric Lady Studios in New York and Ocean Way Recording in Los Angeles to the modest, whitewashed corners of Tuxedo Junction in Birmingham or the sweaty mosh-pit of Harpo’s in Detroit. The voices of Buddy Holly, Muddy Waters, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Patti Smith and countless others have graced the halls presented in her images -- their echoes reflecting off the vibrant surfaces of her prints. Thus far in the project she has photographed over 200 venues, and she’s not done. Individually, the images are a tribute to American music. Together, the series becomes a photographic symphony of an integral part of American life and culture.
Rhona Bitner, Grande Ballroom, Detroit, MI
October 29, 2008, Color Coupler print mounted on aluminum, 40" x 40"
Much of her time is spent researching, editing, choosing. Eventually, she hits the road - treks to these places and listens carefully before she makes her image. Bitner's aesthetic enters the picture only to clarify the sound. These journeys create an anthology of larger, entwining ideas of space and history and become a union of sight and sound.
Harpo's Concert Theater, Detroit, MI
October 28, 2009, Color Coupler print mounted on aluminum, 40" x 40"
The large-scale chromogenic prints are rich with color and detail. Scars lurk through the veneer of a stage once painted, a wall once broken. Nothing stands between the viewer and the sticky depth of the print. History, both intimate and grand, unravels before us on these shining, shifting and shimmying surfaces. The music whispers out from their edges.

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