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Leslie Sokolow,
Ocean Series #22, Santa Monica, CA, 1999
Silver gelatin print on paper
16 in. x 20 in. (40.64 cm x 50.8 cm)

Object Type: Photography
Technique: Gelatin silver Process
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. Joel Cohen
Accession Number: 2007.13.1

Leslie Sokolow does not use a tripod. She explains: “I want to capture the shape of my subject.” The overall lack of focus in Ocean Series exaggerates oceanic movement, articulating the eternal motion and patterns of waves, as well as the flicker and impermanence of memory. Though Sokolow’s photographs are blurry, they do have depth—a function of the double weight Kodak Ektalure paper she uses. As viewers engage with these photographs, (invoking their own memories of the ocean), the Ocean Series prints begin to evolve into more personal reflections. The photographs have depth yet are always a bit blurry around the edges, leaving room for interpretation and meditation. The photograph’s insistent blurriness distances the viewer from a particular and distinct instant, a specificity that is typically captured and defined by photography. For the viewer, the moment when Sokolow pressed the button and took the photograph is obsolete. The meaning lies in the ambiguity of the photograph, and its ability to encourage viewers to assume a more active stance when interpreting these oceanic images. Like a memory recalled, these images are not distinct. The photographs are subject to the viewer’s own experiences and associations with these particular bodies of water. Sokolow asks her viewers to pause a moment, and consider the Zen-like repetition of waves as they endlessly pound the shore. Ocean Series #22 and #4A are meditations on memory. Have we been to this beach? Have we felt the sticky salt water crash against our ankles, as we timidly approach this massive body of water? Are we shocked by the Pacific’s alarmingly cool temperature? Where is the horizon? Where does it begin? End? Sokolow’s goal is to photograph something the way you may recall it from memory. These compositions’ elusive forms emphasize this sentiment. Memories, like the ocean, are never something tangible, that we can fix. Photography is. Donielle Kaufman ’10 Wilson Intern 2009-2010

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