Nate Lerner Nate Lerner

Artist Statement

My work functions as an index of the Anthropocene, interrogating the poetics of late capitalism and seeking out geographies where the sublime and the mundane intersect.*

1. The fundamental photographic act – that of making an exposure – is primarily a reductive and indexical one, placing a discrete frame around the infinite and the observable.

2. I think about Charles Sanders Pierce – “The index asserts nothing; it only says 'There!' It takes hold of our eyes, as it were, and forcibly directs them to a particular object, and there it stops.”
 a. (Moving through the world with camera in hand urges the act of noticing, leading to delight, wonder, disgust, and on  and on. I am compelled to observe with whatever freshness and lucidity I can muster, lest the gifts of our weird, finite, and mysterious being-in-time be squandered.)

3. I also think about Barthes: “Although Barthes declared that ‘the photograph is literally an emanation of the referent,’ he also acknowledged that, like the rays of light from a distant star that reach us only after the star has ceased to exist, the photograph can only attest to the existence of the object; the photographic declaration, ‘that-has-been,’ hovers between presence and absence, now and then. Part of what is traumatic about photography is that it is an indexical trace of someone or something that is no more, or is no longer the same. We are dealing, then, not with presence but with past presence, which is to say, the hollowed-out presence of an absence” (Iversen, Photography, Trace, and Trauma).

4. Photographs can expose that which is rendered invisible by its ubiquity.
 a. It is possible to photograph ideology.

5. Beauty and trauma are not mutually exclusive. Photographs expose these things too.

*Jerry Saltz (a clown) says I should not use most of these words. My wife (the love of my life) agrees. Whatever.