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Wednesday October 01, 2014
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Photographer Michael Kenna

 

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Study #88 offers a similar contrast between the artificial and the natural. The work looks up from the base of two large chimneys extending into opaque gray sky. Above the massive columns, thin and faint white curves of star tracks appear from what must be a time-lapse photo. These unassuming marks quietly raise questions about the permanence of the monumental structures.

An infernal nighttime city of towers, chutes, and railroads appears in Study #96. Mist and smoke again fill the view, blurring lights and suffusing the imposing square structures in mystery and dreamy unreality. At this place devoted to motion and noise, a parked rail car in the photo adds to the feeling of poised stillness.

An enormous black scoop, parked crookedly in the foreground of Study #5 against a background of crane arms indistinct in a fog, suggests, despite its massive and clumsy bulk, a lyre strung with nine cables. The scoop-lyre offers a succinct metaphorical representation of how Kenna's photos of the Rouge tease from this utilitarian factory a dark and powerful visual music of mystery, grace, and foreboding.

The photographs are on display at the U-M Museum of Art Off/Site December 2 through January 14.

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