“YOU Look At ME Like An EMERGENCY”: Photographs by Cig Harvey at Kopeikin Gallery

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Cig Harvey‘s “YOU Look At ME Like An EMERGENCY” –her first solo show in Los Angeles now at Kopeikin Gallery- gives us a poignant group of photographs that are rich and suggestive. These 24 artworks are selected from a range of photographs in the artist’s recently released book, YOU Look At ME Like An EMERGENCY (Shilt Publishing, 2012), available at the gallery. The artist had her first solo exhibition last year in Oslo, Norway at the Stenersen Museum.

According to the gallery,

Harvey’s photographs draw inspiration from Joseph Campbell’s concept of the ‘monomyth’ in which the hero figure goes through a transformative cycle of departure, initiation and return…[she] emphasizes that these characters reiterate the stories of shared experience.

In one picture we see a teenage girl in a car, The Pale Yellow Cadillac, Portland ME, 2010 (above); we have no trouble building a story around this image.  The stark scene suggests such drama as a last goodbye, this is an emotional moment for a young lady with something on her mind. All of Cig’s images tell multiple stories; I can easily imagine my writer’s group responding to any one of these pictures as a prompt for a 20-minute story-writing session.

The Hope Chest, Rockport, ME, 2007 (see below) obscures the expression of the presumably young lady holding up the chest while still creating a mood that is not all that optimistic. Will the bride drop the hope chest? Will she fade into domestic bliss? Will she be happy?  Without being sure of Harvey’s intention in devising the show’s title, the subjects do seem to plead. Although the pictures are not the stuff of the moment, they deliver immediate emotional charges that are common most to people–we know we’ve had that feeling.

Devin and the Fireflies, Rockland, ME, 2010 (see below), captures the magic of standing in a field of fireflies at dusk with such expert art direction that it could be part of a Hollywood blockbuster film preview, or on a billboard with a film advertisement; it is a dreamy fantasy picture. Her work is very filmic. Although Cig is British and lives and works mostly in Maine after teaching in working in Boston for many years, the work resonates well in Los Angeles as it will in many cities.

Harvey strips away all but suggestions of place, making it easier to empathize with the subject. These are not portraits in a strict sense and place exists in the imagination of the viewer. The stunning pictures are shown at Kopeikin Gallery through April 6, 2013.

YOU Look At ME Like An EMERGENCY: Cig Harvey
February 23-April 6, 2013
Kopeikin Gallery
2766 So. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
310 559-0800
Open Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm


Devin and the Fireflies, Rockland, ME, 2010. Digital Chromogenic Print. Image courtesy Kopeikin Gallery.


The Hope Chest, Rockport, ME, 2007. Digital Chromogenic Print. Image Courtesy of Kopeikin Gallery.

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