work in progress
“The animistic proclivity to perceive the angular shape of a boulder (while shadows shift across its surface) as a kind of meaningful gesture, or to enter into felt conversations with clouds and owls—all of this could be brushed aside as imaginary distortion or hallucinatory fantasy if such active participation were not the very structure of perception, if the creative interplay of the senses in the things they encounter was not our sole way of linking ourselves to those things and letting the things weave themselves into our experience.”
—David Abrams, ‘The Spell of the Sensuous’

Candela Gallery is pleased to present Hallucinations by Richmond, Virginia based artist Justin James Reed, this is Reed’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. For the past 3 years Reed has been developing a body of large format photographic and video work in the landscape around a potentially active volcano in northern California. In this work, Reed takes a phenomenological approach, finding lens-based media the perfect tool to translate his direct experience of the non-human natural world into tangible materials. While the series utilizes a highly representational visual language, it allows for the possibility of seeing something other than what is being shown. This demonstration of where representational qualities of photography and video meet the edges of perception and a translation of direct experience, is Reed’s primary focus.

In many ways Reed's work has never been about creating an index of something with a camera. It is much more reflective of his interest in what is possible, including the potential to perceive things better that are not necessarily visual. David Abram’s seminal book ‘The Spell of the Sensuous,’ which explores intersections between deep ecology and philosophy, has become a primary influence for Reed’s current work. In it, one of the central concepts Abram’s speaks of is “the malleable texture of perception.” Reed finds this flexibility, this openness of perceptual experience, the perfect vehicle to allow him to explore how photography and video act as tangible material versions of a psychic relationship between the seen and a landscape or, more specifically, non-human nature.

The works included in Hallucinations are entirely comprised of images and yet fundamentally have little to do with what they actually depict. Instead, they highlight the potential of lens-based imagery to become more focused on sharing, rather than showing. They encapsulate the potential for perception beyond seeing.

Solo Exhibition
Candela Gallery, Richmond, VA
Press release

Harper’s Magazine: VOL. 341, NO. 2043. New York, NY: John R. MacArthur, August 2020. 83.