Erica Baum is an artist who uses photography to achieve her ends of poetic, language-based work. A graduate of Barnard in 1984 with a degree in Anthropology, her senior thesis focused on the changing roles of women in Japanese society through contemporary Japanese literature. Baum, who also holds an MFA from Yale, continues to incorporate an interest in social change and post-colonial issues in her work. For example, she uses documentary-type photographs to record and consider systems of knowledge such as indices, card catalogues, board games, and second-hand books, uncovering hidden social and political meanings. Baum’s interest in text-based knowledge systems, in particular random snatches of found-language, provides oblique references and startling reductions. One black-and-white photograph, in particular, shows text tabs for categories of a library card catalogue that read “Subversive activities… Suburban homes.”
This year Baum published her first artist’s book Sightings (One Star Press, Paris), which is available at Printed Matter. In her forthcoming book Dog Ear (Ugly Duckling Press, New York), Baum highlights chance encounters of text as a result of turning down the pages of second hand books. One such photograph reads, in snippets, “involuntary … funny thing… don’t slip… a little.”
Works by Baum were recently discussed in The New York Times review of Independent, the alternative “art fair.” This photographic series, titled The Naked Eye, features images of the edges of books, where the pages are open to reveal photographs and gaps, as well as text fragments. She is also currently in the exhibition “Pictures Extra and Others” at the Helena Papadopoulos Gallery in Athens, Greece. In New York, her solo show “Shuffled Glances” opens at the Lower East Side gallery Bureau on April 3rd.