Hollis Frampton’s Strongest Series Comes To New York

Installation view of HOLLIS FRAMPTON ADSVMVS ABSVMVS, ROOM EAST, New York, 2015. Courtesy of the Estate of Hollis Frampton and ROOM EAST v

With “sun-baked” road kill and desiccated seafood from “oriental food markets,” Hollis Frampton proposed to “close the circle” between “autographic” and “photographic” likeness. Frampton passed away at 48 in 1984, and this would be his last substantial photographic work, a suite of fourteen pictures, or photographic plates, titled “ADSVMVS ABSVMVS,” 1982. The result is on view, along with the artist’s initial funding proposal (from which the above language is drawn), at Room East through December 20.

The artist, filmmaker, and pioneering State University of Buffalo professor was honored with a retrospective in Buffalo, New York earlier this year, of which “ADSVMVS ABSVMVS” was a part before it traveled to this split-level gallery on the Lower East Side. From clover to cuttlefish, these images of once-living things, now dead and dry, are among Frampton’s strongest — at once invoking the observational sciences and the limits of technical or scientistic observation. In “ADSVMVS ABSVMVS,” the balanced attention to life and form upstages — and presages — the clinical proceduralism of better known photo-conceptualists like Christopher Williams, and, to a lesser degree, Louise Lawler.

The exhibition at Room East comprises archival materials connected to the series — the artist’s aforementioned proposal, correspondences, pictures, dried objects, and other ephemera. Also included is a reprinted booklet with Frampton’s paragraph-long descriptions of each image in the series as well as his elegant prefatory remarks: “A photographic text and its proper pretext bear the following resemblance to one another: each is a sign of the perfective absence of the other,” he writes.

Four films by Frampton will be screened in connection with the exhibition at Anthology Film Archives on Sunday, November 15 from 12 to 2pm.

Mostafa Heddaya (@mheddaya)

(Photo: Installation view of Hollis Frampton: ADSVMVS ABSVMVS, Room East, New York, 2015. Courtesy of the Estate of Hollis Frampton and Room East.)