Janet Sternburg: LIMBUS

USC Fisher Museum of Art proudly announces LIMBUS, a solo exhibition by photographer Janet Sternburg, visual artist, author of books of essays, memoirs and poetry, and educator. The exhibition, organized by the USC Fisher Museum of Art, opens on September 18, 2018 and runs through December 1, 2018.“

Limbus was defined,” writes Sternburg in her artist’s statement, “by the Renaissance physician Paracelsus to describe a hem in the universe between body and spirit. In its current usage,” she continues, “it is the name of the rim of the cornea where the pupil meets the white of the eye. It is the home of infinitely generative stem cells that cross the limbus to maintain and replenish the cornea.” To embody this multi-faceted metaphor for the exhibition, Sternburg has made a limbus for each of her 74 by 48 inch photographs where traces within each image cross the limbus border.

 

Janet Sternburg, Lantern, 2011, printed 2018, pigment based color print
(original medium: iPhone 4, chromogenic color print) 74 x 48 in. Image courtesy of the artist.

 

Sternburg’s central concern regarding her photography has been to show an interpenetrating and layered world. Believing that the separations that define much of the physical and political world are not necessary to recreate in photography, Sternburg opens herself and her viewers to a new way of seeing where ambiguity and complexity prevail. She works with single-use and iPhone cameras. With closer viewings, the many conjunctions of Sternburg’s images yield mysterious and captivating passages. Multiple stories hover outside the frame and images emit their own light. She approaches photography as a poet.

In her commentary on Sternburg’s work in the monograph Overspilling World: The Photographs of Janet Sternburg (Distanz Verlag, Berlin. 2016) photographer Catherine Opie writes, “We are asked to look and decipher time and time again what lies before us. What are we looking at? We are asked to go beyond the depiction of space and into the abstraction of reality.” Opie adds, “What is surface? What is reflection? This is what holds me in thinking about the work. It is that question of what connects us to the real. Signs pop in behind and overlay the figure in shop windows, the sky is ever present, red is blood, it is internal and external, and it truly is an “over-spilling world.”