The Lottery | Shortlisted Project - PhMuseum 2020 Photographers Grant - PhMuseum

The Lottery

  • Sulfur landscape #1

  • Cormorants (on land)

  • Crowd #1

  • Travertine Terraces, Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone

  • Bull kelp

  • California poppy field #1

  • Untitled constellation #2 (The Lottery)

  • Installation image at Light Work, Syracuse, 2022

  • Installation image at Light Work, Syracuse, 2022

  • Installation image at Light Work, Syracuse, 2022

  • Installation image at Light Work, Syracuse, 2022

  • Installation image at Light Work, Syracuse, 2022

  • Installation image at Light Work, Syracuse, 2022

  • Installation image at Light Work, Syracuse, 2022

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Single images resemble sentence fragments that Catanese completes with her sequences. Sometimes seamlessly blending in, Catanese\u2019s own images also act as punctuation throughout the work. This creates a sensation of call and response between the archival material and Catanese\u2019s own images that brings to mind the Chauvet Cave in southeastern France.<\/p>\n<p>The title, which orients our attention towards indeterminacy and chance, is derived from the celebrated short story by Shirley Jackson about a small town in Vermont that holds a lottery each year to determine which of its villagers will be stoned to death. Catanese uses dissonance, repetition, and stream of consciousness as structural devices to play off resonant themes and counter-themes of beauty and violence, conformity and alienation, empathy and cruelty. The result is a speculative fiction concerning her adversarial relationship with herself and nature, an appeal to an uncertain future haunted by the shockwaves of the past.<\/p>\n<p>Throughout the image sequence, crowded masses of (mostly) white humans appear as both passive audiences and aggressive spectators, at once obsequious and agential. Through sleight-of-hand editing, these images offer a critique on the mythology of populism and a blind acceptance of humanity's capacity for violence and neglect in a time of growing nationalism and tribalism. Lone figures are seen clawing, swimming, bending, haunted and creaturely, isolated and immersed. Their presence is enveloped in celestial and terrestrial phenomena, a not-so-subtle catastrophic biosphere\u4e00explosive volcanic landscapes and corporeal underground chambers signal the pressure bubbling up and shifting from below. Merciless fires, lightning storms, and the radiating energy of the sun signal the unrelenting madness from above. The Lottery is a menacing and urgent story told from a perspective ranging from the distant past to the contemporary present, converging to evoke a psychological drama that constellates around physical, political, and ecological trauma. It carries the weight of loss with a distant hope for regeneration, questioning how one can feel at home in a world that is so strange, where the unimaginable so often enters into the realm of the real.<\/p>","body_raw":"Melissa Catanese turns her attention to the tense and confusing state of contemporary politics and culture in her new series, The Lottery. Her selection of images bring together large groups of people, barren caverns, natural forces, physical exertion, and eruptions both crude and colorful. The accumulated manic puzzle shifts the viewer from crowded street to darkened cavern. 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Catanese uses dissonance, repetition, and stream of consciousness as structural devices to play off resonant themes and counter-themes of beauty and violence, conformity and alienation, empathy and cruelty. The result is a speculative fiction concerning her adversarial relationship with herself and nature, an appeal to an uncertain future haunted by the shockwaves of the past.\n\nThroughout the image sequence, crowded masses of (mostly) white humans appear as both passive audiences and aggressive spectators, at once obsequious and agential. Through sleight-of-hand editing, these images offer a critique on the mythology of populism and a blind acceptance of humanity's capacity for violence and neglect in a time of growing nationalism and tribalism. Lone figures are seen clawing, swimming, bending, haunted and creaturely, isolated and immersed. 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It carries the weight of loss with a distant hope for regeneration, questioning how one can feel at home in a world that is so strange, where the unimaginable so often enters into the realm of the 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