Thomas Joshua Cooper: Refuge

Thomas Joshua Cooper: Kangertittivaq/Scoresbysund, The Denmark Strait. Kangikajik/Kap Brewster, 6 p.m. same day, Liverpool Land, Tunu/Ost/East Greenland, Denmark, 2007-2008
Thomas Joshua Cooper
May 5, 2019 to July 28, 2019

Throughout his career, Thomas Joshua Cooper has been preoccupied with water as a focal point for his abiding fascination with the landscape, historical and cultural geography, cartography, and the problems of picture-making. Thomas Joshua Cooper: Refuge, created during a 10-day research and residency commissioned by the Parrish Art Museum, features 19 photographs captured along the coastal and inland waterways throughout the South Fork and Shelter Island on the East End of Long Island. The images are juxtaposed with some 30 photographs taken on the East Coast, and of the Hudson River as it passes through Essex, Warren, Saratoga, Rensselaer, and Dutchess counties. 

A member of the Cherokee Nation on his father’s side, Cooper was born in San Francisco in 1946 and grew up on Indian reservations throughout the Western United States. The sites he selected for his images share specific importance to both Native Americans and immigrants. Each has been a significant socio-economic driver, nurturing important artist communities that arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The East End’s Conscience Point, the locus of Midday Sun (2016/2017), is where the first English colonists landed in 1640. Evening - Falling Light, Great Peconic Bay - Looking towards Robins Island (2016/2017)was shot from a sacred site on theShinnecock Reservation.  

Cooper seeks out the edges of the world to create his images.His travels are equal parts extreme exploration and technical adroitness, as he pushes both his own physical limits and the technical capabilities of his medium. His photographs can involve arduous travel and considerable physical effort, and days, weeks, or months of preparation to achieve. Each location is the subject of a single negative taken with a large format AGFA field camera from 1898 that he has used since 1968. Cooper meticulously hand prints his photographs as selenium-toned gelatin silver prints resulting in almost transcendental dark and sumptuous tones, granular in detail yet scaled in the scope of a grand vista.