Gravity of Light is an installation by the Starn brothers inside of Holy Cross Church at the Mount Adams Monastery in Cincinnati. It’s part of FotoFocus, a month-long biennial celebration spotlighting independently programmed exhibitions of historical and contemporary photographic and lens-based art.
The decommissioned Holy Cross Church is an incredible art venue that hosted Hanging Garden by Shinji Turner-Yamamoto two years ago, which is still one of the more amazing art installations I’ve ever seen.
At the center of Gravity of Light is a brilliant, noisy, 13-foot tall carbon arc lamp, and visitors must wear safety glasses in order to protect their retinas. This light illuminates the large-scale photographic pieces on the walls, with the main focus on the terrifying Take Off Your Skin, It Ain’t No Sin, shown above and below.
Some of the other pieces on display are similar in approach and materials to the first time I encountered the Starn brothers’ work about 20 years ago — grungy with a weathered physicality. Maybe it doesn’t seem so groundbreaking now but, at the time, I was amazed to learn that photographic work can have a sculptural quality to it.
With the sizzling, flickering lamp at its gravitational center, the installation explores the generative and destructive power of light, and the monumental photographs on the walls feature moths, trees and other phenomena that are affected by its brilliance.
Doug and Mike Starn are identical twins who have been collaborating for over 25 years; they currently live in the town of Beacon, just north of NYC. For more photos and information, check out the artists’ site and the recent CityBeat article, The Scariness and Brilliance of the Starns’ ‘Gravity of Light’. Better yet, take a field trip to Holy Cross Church to see the installation in person.