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shannon ebner

fret scapes

Kaufmann Repetto New York

[ Press Release ]

FRET, acronym for the Forecast Reference Evapotranspiration Report, is a report generated by climate scientists to measure the rate at which water that falls to the ground will evaporate to the sky.

The poem “FRET” is comprised of seventeen screen compositions that are written with the WET LETTER alphabet, a holdover from my 2019 show WET WORDS IN A HOT FIELD. The alphabet was constructed with a set of paper letters approximately the size of an outstretched hand. To photograph the letters, I pasted them to the inside of a building with water. Handling the wet letters was a delicate act. By the time I would get from A-Z the letters would dry and fall to the ground. Sometimes a corner or edge might keep its grip, but most would succumb to gravity quickly, leaving the photographed environment looking like an alphabetic field in disarray, a vanishing act of language. And so the process went like this, a series of water intrusions enacted for a camera on a paper alphabet. Thin and pliable, not quite typographically black, more like photographically ashen, the alphabet became weakened by the laborious process of its rising and falling under the spell of the camera’s steady lens.

In the context of this exhibition, I think of the poem as a weather event that is facing off with a group of images that are forecasting the social world — pictures that are reflecting, deflecting, depicting and reassembling signs and messages whose whereabouts in time and space are directionally unclear.

— Shannon Ebner


Shannon Ebner (b. 1971, New Jersey) lives and works in New York. Solo exhibitions have been presented at the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford; ICA Miami, Miami; Fondazione Memmo, Rome, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and MoMA PS1, New York. Ebner’s work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions at museums and institutions such as Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; V-A-C Foundation, Venice; Tate Modern, London; Whitechapel Gallery, London; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; CCA Wattis, San Francisco; ICA Boston, Boston; Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Moscow; and Künstlerhaus, Klagenfurt; among others. Ebner was included in the 10th edition of Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool; the 31st Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana; the Daegu Photo Biennial, South Korea; the 54th Venice Biennale, Venice; the 6th Berlin Biennale of Contemporary Art, Venice; and the 2008 Whitney Biennial, New York. Ebner’s work is included in numerous public collections in both the US and abroad. She is currently chairperson of the Photography Department at Pratt Institute where she is also the series editor for Pounds Per Image (PPI), a Pratt Photography Imprint that is co-published by Dancing Foxes Press. This is her fourth solo exhibition at kaufmann repetto and her first in the New York location. Her website/publication STRAY WORLD will be published by Source Type in 2022.