The gentile Southern upbringing and demeanor of Anne Rowland contradict her immodest projections. In the impressive series of work that she has produced, Rowland has projected slides on her body to layer and reflect concepts about the self, flesh and memory. The series are connected by sharp psychological twists where the viewer shares a clash of faith and identity with the artist. For Rowland, the projection of transparencies is a means to both know and hide oneself, mixing popular and personal imagery.
The new work, Dictu Sanctificare, translated from Latin, 'it is said to be sanctified', at first glance creates an intense and direct reaction. The series is an inventory of body parts, belonging to Christian VIP's, presented as pious artifacts. The individual titles play a taxonomic role in shaping the content. God's Brain, for instance, would be a painterly, sparkled mass of pastel convolutions on a dense black ground if not for the elegant script, on the ribbon at the base of the photograph, that classifies this extraordinary brain. Some of Adam's Ribs, scattered horizontally and also charged by heavenly light remind us of our humble beginnings - and inevitable end. Walking on Water is another miracle transfixed by the camera. The tendons and muscles on the soles of the feet become a magician's device to expose a mortal's flesh, the ten mortal toes of one Jeffrey Hoone, as a matter of fact.
Rowland created several new pieces for this series during her residency at Light Work this past October. The large color photographs are a culmination of a lengthy technical process that often begins with library research and proceed to the studio where transparencies are projected, dimension added with translucent fabrics and/or real limbs, rephotographed, the unwanted portions blocked out and finally exposed with the text onto photo paper. For Rowland, the process is sometimes playful, reminiscent of creating theatrical fantasies with a slide projector as a child in Virginia. With a needling wit she tests the association of sex and sainthood with a glowing illustration of God's Penis, as well as the uncircumcised genitalia of His disciples.
The final prints, as in her former series, are the result of thorough planning, impeccable technique and an imagination brimming with irony. In the current context of right wing moral vehemence, Rowland's new work is an elegant antidote to sin, that denudes, unblushing, the exalted stereotypes of patriarchal civilization.
Gina Murtagh (c)1991