Adam Ekberg: “On the Surface of a Planet”

at Capsule Gallery

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“Balloon Dog in the Sky,” 2016, Adam Ekberg, Archival pigment print, 20″ x 24″
Photo: courtesy Capsule Gallery

Although it may be difficult to believe, Adam Ekberg’s archival pigment prints are not manipulated using a computer software program such as Photoshop. In fact, the camera itself is not a major part of his workÑit’s just a vehicle to capture a moment in time. Instead, Ekberg manipulates what is going on in his photographs, which can be quite astounding. First, the artist finds a remote location to set up his shot. Since Ekberg divides his time between Vermont and Florida, the location is often a forest or a field, sometimes snow-covered. On the Surface of a Planet, for example, shows a glowing crystal situated under a moss-covered rock deep in a forest. Another color photograph more difficult to describe is Extinguishing a Small Flame: for this piece, Ekberg placed a jug of milk in a forest clearing. He then made a small hole in the side of the container so that a thin stream of milk arcs out of the jug; amazingly, the liquid is in the process of extinguishing a flaming book of matches. The timing must be perfect, and even then, it seems nearly impossible to coordinate the lighting of the matches and the opening of the hole in the milk container, not to mention capturing it all on camera.

Ekberg also has an ongoing series in which he tosses an object into the air repeatedly, shooting it until he gets the result he wants. In Balloon Dog in the Sky, a yellow balloon dog appears to be suspended high above the earth, but how does one toss a balloon in the air? And if it’s filled with hydrogen, how does it not drift away? In other pieces, dominoes topple over on the desert floor, a skull is on fire, and, in a complex piece involving five milk jugs, each has a stream of milk flowing from a hole in its side into a container below it. The artist talks about his “longing to see things in the world that are unlikely or impossible,” and his ability to actualize that goal takes incredible patience and ingenuity. There is something of the early days of photography here, when its practitioners were experimenting constantly to see what they could capture on film. Ekberg captivates the viewer by setting up and executing miraculous moments, and there seems to be no limit to his imagination.

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Neil Vazquez
Donna Tennant is a Houston-based art writer who writes reviews for various publications, including art ltd. and Visual Art Source. Other publications she has written for over the past 35 years include the Houston Chronicle, Southwest Art, Artlies, ARTnews, and the Houston Press. She has also written numerous catalogue essays. She has taught art history at University of Houston–Downtown and Lone Star College and is currently a writer and editor for the Houston Independent School District.