Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, an artistic partnership between dream and reality

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, an artistic partnership between dream and reality

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Intermission, 2015
From the Precipice series
30 x 43″, 40 x 57″ pigment print
Total edition of 7
© Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison / image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

by Laura Luppi

 

A soliloquy (from Late Latin soliloquium “a talking to oneself”, from Latin solus “alone” + loqui “speak”) is surely not a monologue (from Late Greek monologos “speaking alone”, from Greek monos “single, alone” + logos “speech, word”). This latter is a speech delivered by one person in front of an audience (be it a single person or a crowd). On the contrary, a soliloquy is a self-addressed speech that we made when we are – or we think we are – alone, as it is often occurs in tragedies and dramas.
This is exactly what happens to the character of “Soliloquy”, one of the most recent work of the artistic duo Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison. An elegantly dressed man is standing on an abandoned stage, staring at the horizon, under the stage the large seating area, full of empty run-down chairs stacked just a few steps away from a place of misery and destruction. His hat laying on the ground may suggest a humble gesture, a gesture of defeat and, at the same time, of respect towards what surrounds him, towards what triggers his cloistered emotions and introspective reflection. The man is lost in his own thoughts, he seems not to utter a word and yet he says so much to all those who let themselves be transported into the dream world of ParkeHarrison duo.
Robert and Shana, life partners and business partners, combine their synergies and skills to carry out their photo projects which result in a strong pictorial impact in a surrealist style, with a charming aesthetics and a highly powerful meaning. Robert’s photography studies and performing skills perfectly mix in perfect harmony with Shana’s open and sensitive approach to dance choreography and the craft metalworking techniques she learnt at school
Like the ingredients of a magic potion, the personal skills, aptitudes and vocations of these two artists meld to create photographs of a dimension which is parallel to the dimension in which we think we are living, but of which we all feel an intimate part. The natural world, ravaged and pauperized by man’s actions and symbolized by barren landscapes, is a sad but realistic reminder of our responsibilities for the destruction of our planet, which is at risk because of our egoistic needs. It is no coincidence that ParkeHarrison’s “Everyman”, the fictional character developed by Robert and Shana, portrayed in the past as the earth’s protector, healer and communicator, is now wondering about human conditions and the future awaiting humankind after the failure of his previous attempts to save the world. In “Sojourn” Everyman is a voyager ready to explore unknown places, in “Downpour” he’s a clumsy technician who never loses the hope to make up for his mistakes and improve himself starting from these mistakes. And frightening could be, even if not too much, the cliff edge where he is standing in “Precipice”, having to decide whether to cut or not the tree which determines the balance suspended between everything and nothing. The essentiality of the individual’s thought, the acknowledgment of the false myths we pursued and the new ones we want to pursue in order to save the natural world and with it the humankind are the worlds the ParkeHarrison duo loves to explore in order to give their imagination free rein. Like a spring day surrounded by butterflies and ethical values to be sown. Or listening to the noisy silence of the oracles in the shape of huge megaphones. Everything takes us back to the alchemy, to that kind of limbo that enthralls us when our mind constructs imaginary images in the semi-sleep state. No wonder that the world is talking to us through imagination; after all, to quote the words of Lewis Carroll: “Life, what is it, but a dream?”.

 

Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison are a husband and wife duo who has been making photographs together for almost 20 years. The first edition of their photography book “The Architect’s Brother” was published in 2000 by Twin Palms Publishers, followed by a second edition in 2002. The ParkeHarrisons’ work can be found in over 20 prestigious museum collections, among others, in the County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, in the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and in the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House.

ParkeHarrison

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Riverview, 2015
From the Precipice series
42¾ x 30″ pigment print
Edition of 7
© Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison / image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

ParkeHarrison

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Nature Morte, 2015
From the Precipice series
42¾ x 30″ pigment print
Edition of 7
© Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison / image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

ParkeHarrison

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Downpour, 2015
From the Precipice series
41 x 30″, 54 x 40″ pigment print
Total edition of 7
© Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison / image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

ParkeHarrison

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Soliloquy, 2015
From the Precipice series
30 x 40″ pigment print
Edition of 7
© Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison / image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

ParkeHarrison

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Sojourn, 2015
From the Precipice series
30 x 45½” pigment print
Edition of 7
© Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison / image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

ParkeHarrison

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Precipice, 2015
From the Precipice series
30 x 39½” pigment print
Edition of 7 + 1 AP
© Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison / image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

ParkeHarrison

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Logic of Spring, 2015
From the Precipice series
30 x 38″ pigment print
Edition of 7
© Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison / image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

ParkeHarrison

Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, First of May, 2015
From the Precipice series
30 x 40″, 40 x 53″ pigment print
Total edition of 7
© Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison / image courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

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