May 1, 2009
Science / Fiction reviewed in The Oregonian's A&E, 5/1/09

Chas Bowie writes:
"The exhibition opens with a luminous suite of 25 notebook-sized ambrotypes, each featuring a solitary, unoccupied bird nest. Ambrotypes, which enjoyed a brief popularity in the mid-19th century, hold their images on sheets of glass. Held in one's hand, the golden-hued ambrotypes appear translucent and tonally reversed, but when placed against a black surface, they snap into a brilliant positive.

Seubert's constellation of nests reveals the visual delicacy of the antiquated process, as well as its practical challenges. For each exposure, the artist was required to coat a pane of glass with syrupy collodion, load it into her camera and then take the picture before the fragile sheet dried up. Traces of the temperamental process are evident in each of the nest compositions -- Seubert's fingerprints emerge like phantom signatures in many, while each sports a unique skein of stains, brush strokes and other mesmerizing "mistakes."

The lovely avian subjects of the ambrotypes -- palm-sized nests of swirling twigs and crinkled fibers -- are elegiac in their vacancy, suffused with implications of loss, motherhood and loneliness. Formally, the nest grid evokes two seemingly incongruous 20th-century works of art: Meret Oppenheim's sexually suggestive fur-lined cup and saucer of 1936, and Bernd and Hilla Becher's epic series of industrial photographs, composed in a rigidly uniform style, grouped by categorical "types" and exhibited with deadpan panache as banal, unremarkable grids. To Seubert's credit, her ambrotype nests are roomy enough to accommodate Oppenheim's material evocations as well as the Bechers' quasi-scientific rationalism. "

Please follow the link below to read the full review in the May 1st edition of The Oregonian's A&E.

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