6 page photo spread
By Margaret Moore
In 1913, when Marcel Duchamp exhibited his splintered, dynamic work Nude Descending a Staircase, he challenged the world to look at painting from a new angle. In much the same way, Jenny Okun has reinvented photography, except that she leaves out the nude and concentrates on the staircase. Her layered montages, built up as she winds her film in tiny increments through a Hasselblad camera, seem to dissolve the outer skin of a building revealing its soul. The final images are printed with an Iris inkjet printer for a result that is closer to watercolor painting than conventional photographic reproduction. Okun began her cubist experiments with landscapes but discovered an even more lyrical geometry in architectures and angles. In 1997, she was commissioned by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to photograph its new building, designed by architect Richard Meier; her image of the museums entrance not only won critical kudos but has become the Gettys third-highest-selling poster. In reassembling a building into a syncopation of textures, colors, and shadows, Okun returns to us an experience that unlike the cool, level gaze of traditional photography comes close to our own fragmentary way of seeing.