Jessica Eaton:
Wild Permutations

Rose Bouthillier, Associate Curator

February 6, 2015May 24, 2015

Sponsored by:

Paul E. Bain
The Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation
The Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation

with additional support from:
Anselm Talalay Photography Endowment


Click to view the gallery guide for this exhibition.

Vibrant and enigmatic, Jessica Eaton’s work considers the very nature of photography. Using a large format film camera, Eaton has developed an increasingly complex, experimental approach to image making. Wild Permutations, the artist’s first solo museum show, focuses on her investigations into the behavior and production of color.

In 2010, Eaton began photographing grayscale cubes, blocks, and pyramids through red, green, and blue lens filters—primaries on the additive color wheel. Using motion and multiple exposures, she generates layered and blurred chromatic effects, “mixing” colors directly onto the film. In some cases, a single negative will be the product of over 100 exposures. At first glance, Eaton’s works can easily be misread as digital manipulations; however, on close viewing, the surface textures, edges, and shadows suggest they are depictions of real objects. These photographs appear to defy the logic of time and space—even as they are produced by the “rational” mechanics of the camera.

Most recently, Eaton has begun a series of floral studies using black-and-white separation negatives along with ultra violet and infrared filters, transcending the limits of visible light to imagine alternative spectra. In these works, multiple negatives are combined in the color carbon process, an early printing technique valued for its brilliant tones and grainless detail. Calling up diverse references, from still life vanitas to hard-edge abstraction, color theory diagrams, and optical illusions, Eaton’s work deeply engages with vision on physiological, technological, and philosophical terms.

MOCA Cleveland is partnering with Transformer Station to present Wild Permutations across two venues in the city. Transformer Station will show a comprehensive selection of Eaton’s cfaal series (2010-2014), on view February 7–May 2, 2015. Both bodies of Eaton’s work will come together and tour to Oakville Galleries (Ontario, Canada) from September 30, 2015 to January 3, 2016. 

Jessica Eaton (1977, Regina, Canada) lives and works in Montreal, Canada. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at Contact Photography Festival, Toronto, and The Photographers’ Gallery, London. She has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including New Positions in American Photography (2014), Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam (2014); Phantasmagoria (2013), Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver; Québec Triennial (2011), Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; and Photography is Magic, Daegu Photography Bienniel, South Korea. Eaton is the recipient of the Magenta Foundation’s Bright Spark Award (2011) and the Photography Jury Grand Prize at the International Festival of Fashion and Photography, Hyères, France (2012). In 2013 she was long listed for the AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize.

Partner exhibition

MOCA is partnering with Transformer Station to present Jessica Eaton's work across two venues in the city. From February 7 – May 2, 2015, Transformer Station will present Jessica Eaton’s series Cubes for Albers and Lewitt (cfaal), in which the artist photographs grayscale cubes through combinations of red, green and blue lens filters, using motion and multiple exposures to create increasingly complex forms that defy the logic of time and space. Both bodies of Eaton’s work will come together for an international tour to Oakville Galleries.

Jessica Eaton cfaal 109, 2011 ©JessicaEaton, CourtesyM+BGallery, LosAngeles

Jessica Eatoncfaal (mb RGB) 18, 2010, archival pigment print, 50 x 40 inches. Courtesy of the artist.