Fern L. Nesson: Dimensionism
January 12 – February 1 (Project Room)
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Video work All Here All Now
Fern L. Nesson: Dimensionism
Some of my most cherished moments have been spent discovering parallel ideas to my own in the writings of those who came before me. When I was thinking about the connections between theoretical mathematics and abstract photography, I found an incisive companion in Henri Poincaré, the great early 20th century French mathematician. When translating the poetry of Baudelaire, George Steiner, who coined the concept of "mimesis," was right on my wavelength. Buddha and Einstein became close friends as I explored the nature of time.
Most of my friends from generations past are well-known. But my most recent discovery of Károly Sirató came as a complete surprise. A Hungarian poet, who advocated a paradigm shift in the arts in response to Einstein's theories, was neither mentioned in the books that I read about 20th century art nor in my MFA program in photography. What a shame!
Sirató was born in Budapest in 1905 and moved to Paris in 1930. Apparently, he was quite gregarious. He soon made friends with a circle of artists and poets who were upending the conventions of the 19th Century, among them Calder, Arp, Picabia, Duchamp, DeLaunay, Moholy-Nagy, Miró and Kandinsky.
In 1936 Sirató drafted "The Dimensionist Manifesto", advocating the incorporation of the fourth dimension – time – and non-Euclidean geometry into the arts. He argued that
“[P]ioneers of creative art on their way towards completely new realms [must leave] older forms and exhausted essences as prey for less demanding artists! [S]pace and time are not separate categories – absolutes in opposition to one another – as was earlier believed and taken for granted, but rather they are related dimensions in the sense of the non-Euclidean conception. By intuiting this fact, or by making it our own through conscious means, all the old borders and barriers of the arts suddenly disappear.”
Sirató predicted that the results of this shift would be transformative. Literature [would leave] the line and enter the plane (Apollinaire's Calligrammes); painting would leave the plane and enter space (Cubism, Surrealism); sculpture would open up to movement (Calder's mobiles). Finally, Sirató foresaw a completely new art form – “Cosmic Art” – which would "vaporize sculpture into 'matter-music.' "
Sirató had a ready audience for his Manifesto in his friendship circle. They all signed his remarkable document (attached) and continued for decades to produce art that reflected his advocacy. But, while their art and their fame persist, Sirató sank into obscurity. As World War II approached, his friends scattered, and he returned to Budapest (where he died in 1980.) Post-War, the conversation about art has moved on pretty much without him.
Sirató deserves better. As a photographer of the fourth dimension, who seeks to evoke depth and time in her work, I walk in his footsteps. Many photographers aim for "the decisive moment" evoking nostalgia for what was and can never be again. I am not one of them.
I seek to embody the moment when mass becomes energy. Like Sirató, Einstein informs my work. My photographs move and offer energy to the viewer. I believe that art alive with energy is our greatest weapon against the paralysis that comes from the fear of death. When we interact with a living work of art and receive the energy from it, we glimpse immortality. We are "living, not dying." (Tao Te Ching)
This exhibition is dedicated to my new friend Károly Sirató, a visionary thinker who lived in the fourth dimension.
Fern L. Nesson is a fine art photographer who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She received her MFA in Photography from Maine Media College (2018), a J.D. (Harvard Law School (1971), and an M.A. in American History (Brandeis University 1987).
Fern's spare photographs distill reality to its essence, highlighting its energy through the use of form and abstraction. She has had solo exhibitions in Arles, France, the MIT Museum, the MetaLab at Harvard, the Beacon Gallery in Boston, the Auburn Gallery in Los Angeles, Through This Lens Gallery in Durham, NC, Rockport, Maine and on artsy.net. Additionally, her work has been selected for numerous juried exhibitions in the U.S. and in Rome, Barcelona, and Budapest.
Fern's photobook, Signet of Eternity, received a 10th Annual Photobooks Award from the Davis-Orton Gallery and her book, WORD, received the 12th Annual Photobooks Award from the Davis-Orton Gallery. She writes historical photo essays for The LivingNewDeal.org, and photo essays on art and culture for BonjourParis.com.
Please return in a few days to read the critical reviews about the exhibition and to view and order the exhibition catalogue.
This exhibition was supported by the Local Government of Ferencváros District (Budapest Főváros IX. Kerület Ferencváros Önkormányzata).