MEET ME AT INFINITY
A beautiful trait of Brittany Nelson’s work is that in taking care of others, through photography, she addresses in a radically delicate way the devastating effects on individuals—and I would say also on technology—of compulsory heterosexuality.
— Chus Martínez, “I Want to Touch the Cosmos with My Eyes”, Meet Me At Infinity exhibition booklet (Fotogalleriet, 2022)
Brittany Nelson’s work rewrites photography’s history. As one of the most exciting artists of her generation, Nelson presents a critique of Western ideas around the exploration and colonisation of space, and poses it against modernity and neoliberal ideals of progress.
Nelson produces some of the world’s largest “bromoil” prints, referring to a technique from the 1920s. Bromoil—a romantically charged handmade process that replaces the silver used for photographic prints with lithographic inks—embodies Nelson’s search for a different relationship between representation and technology. Using this photographic method, she re-contextualises historical and modern science fiction and technological developments, including NASA images produced by robots known as “rovers.”
The Opportunity series (2019–22) exhibited at Fotogalleriet are landscape photographs of Mars, a planet often representing both the future and the past in the public imagination. Nelson’s works appropriate images from the vast archives of the eponymous Mars rover. The robot lived alone on the planet for 14 years and stayed functional well beyond its initial expected lifespan. The artist reclaims an unconscious life to the robot. In thinking of it roaming the planet as a search for companionship, Nelson considers it a “queer icon.”
In the other exhibition space, Nelson’s interest in and research on the archives of James Tiptree Jr. is presented as a series of glass plate reflective holograms titled Tiptree’s Dead Birds (2019). In the 1970s, author Alice B. Sheldon insulated herself with the pseudonym of James Tiptree Jr., a male pen name and male narrative voice, to discuss her closeted sexuality and make it as a writer in a patriarchal world. Working with Sheldon’s biographer, Julie Phillips, in Amsterdam, Nelson obtained digital scans of six hastily handwritten letters from Sheldon, titled “Tiptree’s Dead Birds.” Writing as Tiptree, she details all the women who had rejected her in her lifetime. These letters read as an epitaph of a lifetime of isolation. With the original documents subsequently lost, the scans were captured as glass plate reflective holograms to replace the letters’ physical form of, and to provide a window into Sheldon’s alternate universe.
Nelson’s work is interference, a glitch in the hundreds of thousands of files transferred to Earth from 70,404 million km away through space. Her work complicates these images, which are both science fiction in practice and form part of the world-conquering discourse of space travel—a similarly male-dominated realm as photography.
Meet Me At Infinity will include various new productions tackling ecology, futurism, and techno-fetishism. Curators Chus Martínez and Xiaoyu Weng, and artist and writer Himali Singh Soin have been invited to contribute texts to the exhibition booklet, which is available in the exhibition space.
As part of Fotogalleriet’s programme, the exhibition addresses and challenges established structures and norms in and outside the art field. It links the artistic program to other fields such as politics, society, health, space exploration and technology. Furthermore, Meet Me At Infinity prescribes that photography and the aesthetic field should not merely act within society, but also pose demands.
Brittany Nelson (b. 1984, Great Falls, MT, USA) is the recipient of a Creative Capital Foundation Grant in Visual Arts and a Theo Westenberger Foundation Grant for advancing women in the arts. Her work has been exhibited at Le CAP—Centre d’art Saint Fons (Saint- Fons, France), Die Ecke (Santiago, Chile), Sonnenstube (Lugano, Switzerland), Bonniers Konsthall (Stockholm, Sweden), The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (Detroit, MI, USA), The Brooklyn Academy of Music (New York, NY, USA), The Cranbrook Art Museum (Bloomfield Hills, MI, USA), The Newcomb Art Museum (New Orleans, LA, USA), Patron Gallery (Chicago, IL, USA), Harnett Museum of Art (Richmond, VA, USA), The International Print Center (New York, NY, USA), among many others. Her monograph “Out Of The Everywhere” was released in 2019 by Mousse Publishing (Milan, Italy), and her sculptural book “Monuments to the Conquerors of Space” was released in 2017 and published by Small Editions (New York, NY, USA). Nelson is currently an Artist in Residence with the SETI Foundation: she was a 2017 artist in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts (San Francisco, CA, USA): and is the recipient of the Fish/Pearce Award for process-based work from the Print Center (Philadelphia, PA, USA). Her work has been featured in Art in America, Frieze, and The New Yorker.
Fotogalleriet’s principal operating support is provided by The Norwegian Royal Ministry of Culture; additional operational funding comes from the Norwegian Photographic Fund (Nofofo) and Oslo Municipality.
Institut Français Norvège supported the visit of Director of CAP Saint-Fons (Centre d’art de Saint-Fons) Alessandra Prandin to the opening event of Meet Me At Infinity. Nelson’s solo exhibition I Wish I Had a Dark Sea was held at CAP Saint-Fons in spring 2022 and paved the way for the exhibition in Oslo.