At Bureau, Erica Baum’s Blackboards Keep Teaching Us

THE DAILY PIC: Avoiding the Twombly treatment, these boards speak of their use.

EBaum.Counting.PH.271.1996.nil

THE DAILY PIC (#1503): There’s a long history of looking at old blackboards as gorgeous Modernist palimpsests – found Twomblys, you could call them. (Or is it Twomblys that are merely “elevated blackboards”?)

This photograph of a blackboard, shot by Erica Baum in 1996, is one of several on view now in her solo show at Bureau gallery in New York. What makes Baum’s pieces different from their modernist predecessors, for instance by photographers such as Aaron Siskind, is that they preserve more traces of their blackboards’ original use – to teach counting, in the case of today’s Pic. Baum’s early, little-known blackboard photos lead directly to the more recent images of books and texts that have won her a following – and, as it happens, a prominent place in the Guggenheim’s current “Photo-Poetics” show.

Baum’s words, you could say, are already there in her blackboards, if only in absentia. (Image courtesy the artist and Bureau New York)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.


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