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Jessica Thalmann: Distance of Desire Exhibition

20 March 2023 at 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm

‘Color . . . is a kind of bliss . . .like a closing eyelid, a tiny fainting spell.’

– Roland Barthes

The fall into color; a lapse, a descent, a Fall. A longing to ascend the turquoise and puce stairwell; to taste the gray truth of the open air. But sepia lattice walls close in, and sharp angles, holes and the metallic taste of silver on my fingers bite hard as I steady myself on the railings. Should I look back? Or will the orange blackness lick at my feet and scratch at my pink face? I already feel the gentle cadmium pull on my eyelids as an intoxicating narcotic spell of violet and olive force me to turn around. Only then do I see the opalescent outlines of Eurydice fade away.

-Jessica Thalmann

Photo-based artist Jessica Thalmann advances the limits of photography both formally and conceptually. Working within the space between 2-dimensional representation and 3-dimensional form, her solo-exhibition, Distance of Desire, presents a new body of work that offers her latest investigations into how color influences image perception and object experience.

The large-scale photographs, wall mounted reliefs and free-standing sculptures of this exhibition have been informed by Thalmann’s intrigue in rudimentary architectural forms and their adjoining capacity to manipulate color and light. Approached through the camera lens, the expansive stairwells, glass enclosures and institutional spaces of her subjects are flattened into abstracted compositions of intersecting geometric fields. Through her use of specialized paper folding techniques, a flat print then takes on a new kind of objecthood again; an image of captured light as it slips over a stairwell is transformed into a unique physical form able to bend light and color in real space and time itself.

Realized in a range of dimensionality, it is Thalmann’s meditations on color experience that have ultimately catalyzed creation of works that ask to be both visually contemplated and physically addressed. For Thalmann, color is not just a singular sensation to be passively seen, but rather a multi-sensorial encounter to be actively pursued.

Jessica Thalmann holds an BFA in Visual Arts from York University, ON, and an MFA in Advanced Photographic Studies from ICP Bard College, New York. Her works have been included in exhibitions across Canada at VIVO Media Arts Centre, Vancouver; Harbourfront Centre, Toronto; Art Gallery of Mississauga; and Angell Gallery, Toronto among others as well as international presentations in the United States at Aperture Foundation, NY; International Centre for Photography, NY; and Humble Arts Foundation, NY. Alongside her personal artistic practice, Thalmann is also an arts educator teaching at the International Centre for Photography, Akin Collective, MacLaren arts Centre, Toronto School of Art, Gallery 44 and City College of New York. She has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards and participated in residencies in Canada and the US. Thalmann is based in Toronto and New York City.

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This project has been generously supported by:

Ontario Arts Council
Canada Council for the Arts

building access code 001 for Cotton Factory entry


Smokestack Gallery, The Cotton Factory
Mill Unit #217, 270 Sherman Avenue N
Hamilton, Ontario L8L 6N4 Canada
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