Front Room Gallery is pleased to present “Albedo Zone,” Sasha Bezzubov. “Albedo Zone” addresses questions of climate change through a series of black and white photographs that deal with the “Albedo effect”. The series consists of very light images of ice, and very dark images of water, making apparent the transformation of ice from an element that cools the planet into one that warms it. This work was made in Alaska, a part of the world where global warming and thawing are at their extreme. Alaska, as well as many Arctic regions and Antarctica contain massive volumes of water in the form of glaciers and sea ice. As the glaciers continue to melt, the rising sea levels may spell disaster for half of the world’s population that lives near the coast.
Bezzubov’s black and white photographs are beautiful, visceral, textural: The craquelure patterns on the horizon-less fields of arctic ice, flat and abstract, The viscosity of the (until recently frozen) water is tactile and inky black. These monochromatic landscapes are easy to relate to, elemental, yet so foreign; they might be the closest thing on earth to actually being in outer space. They are existential—they speak of our very existence on this planet.
Albedo is a measurement of light that is reflected by earth’s surface. Each type of earth surface reflects and retains light and heat in a different way. Ice and snow are the most reflective surfaces; they return the majority of sunlight that reaches them back into the atmosphere, thus preventing the earth from warming. Water, on the other hand, is one of the least reflective surfaces, retaining most of the light that reaches it, thus warming the earth. As the ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice throughout the world melt and become water, these areas transform from being the most reflective to the least reflective surfaces. This causes a feedback that creates further thawing, warming, rising water levels and desalinization, which is, in part, responsible for the climate disaster we face today. It is this transformation of ice into water that Albedo Zone photographs address.
Bezzubov likens photography (drawing with light), to the climate, which is wholly dependent on the reflectivity of surfaces. The objects that reflect the most light appear white and the objects that reflect the least light appear dark or black. The person most responsible for transforming this phenomenon into a technical/theoretical system is the mid-century American photographer Ansel Adams. Dividing the spectrum of reflectivity into eight to ten zones, Adams created a pedagogical method he termed the Zone System. He used this technical approach to create many iconic black and white images that, in their impeccable tonal range, defined his transcendentalist and romantic awe of nature and its creations. Bezzebuv shares Adams’ awe of nature, and his use of the large-format camera but believes that it is imperative to represent nature as the endangered space that it is, while continuing to be aware of the power and beauty it still possesses.
Bezzubov is a two-time recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship Award. His work has been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions including International Biennial of Photography and Visual Arts (Liege, Belgium); Tucson Museum of Art; Museum Belvedere (The Netherlands); Herter Art Gallery (University of Massachusetts); Wavehill (New York); New Orleans Museum of Art; and Noorderlicht Photography Festival (The Netherlands).
In 2009 Nazraelli Press published Bezzubov’s monograph Wildfire (introduction by Bill McKibben). In 2011 Daniel Cooney Fine Arts published Facts on the Ground (introduction by Lucy Lippard) to accompany the exhibition. His work is in permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Joy of Giving Something Foundation. Bezzubov’s work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, The Telegraph Magazine, Esquire, Newsweek, Time, Art & Auction, and Details; and has received critical acclaim in The New Yorker, Freeze, The Village Voice, The Brooklyn Rail and Print. In 2012, The Sylvia Bongo Foundation invited Sasha Bezzubov to Gabon, Central Africa. Republic of Dust, the series of photographs that resulted from this experience was exhibited at Front Room Gallery (NY) in 2015.
Sasha Bezzubov was born in Kiev, Ukraine. He received and MFA in Photography from Yale University. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.