Ponderosa Pine IV
Ponderosa Pine IV belongs to a series of large-scale photographs of trees taken by Graham and depicts a particular species that live in Northern California. The photograph is framed upside down; these “inverted trees” follow Graham’s early experiments with the camera lucida, a room-sized pinhole camera that dates back to ancient times and which he has used to photograph trees from various regions. Through these works Graham looks back at the history of photography while making the viewers aware of their own retinal experience. In the case of the Ponderosa Pine series, the artist’s use of a pinewood frame gives the elephantine inverted tree both a physical presence and a rather morbid veil.
Conceptual artist Rodney Graham’s oeuvre is highly versatile and intellectual. By incorporating fictional narratives and alternative interpretations into an existing context, Graham creates visual puns that layer historical reference to examine social and philosophical systems. Not only is Graham the behind-the-scenes sculptor, photographer, filmmaker, inventor, scholar, writer and singer in his projects, he also literally appears in the finished works, impersonating various fictional characters.