Image above: © Caleb Cain Marcus, Earth, water, humans, dolphin and space, 2013, from the book Goddess / Courtesy of Caleb Cain Marcus and Clic Bookstore and Gallery, New York.
Clic Bookstore & Gallery hosted a book signing for Caleb Cain Marcus' new monograph, Goddess, published by Damiani with texts by Cain Marcus and a foreword by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Ford, on Wednesday, October 21st, 2015. Cain Marcus, an American photographer living in New York City, first traveled to India as a boy and fell in love with India's openness to a plethora of beliefs regarding human reality and existence. The country remained a touchstone in his life, and at the end of 2013, Cain Marcus returned for his third visit, traveling fifteen hundred miles along the Ganges River in forty-four days to create a series of sublime and transcendental photographs that comprise Goddess.
Image above: © Caleb Cain Marcus, Plants and space, 2013, from the book Goddess / Courtesy of Caleb Cain Marcus and Clic Bookstore and Gallery, New York.
The Ganges is a national icon, the real and spiritual lifeline of India. Locals call it 'Ganga' -- a manifestation of the goddess Ganga who is a vehicle of ascent to the heavens. Her water is deemed holy, and has uses beyond the irrigation of crops and making of bricks. It is a cherished substance that is carried to relatives and friends. A few drops of 'Gangajal', as it is called, are placed between the lips of the deceased to free them from the cycle of rebirth. Ganga is a connector of everything in India, just as space is a connector of everything in the universe.
Image above: Caleb Marcus Cain signing a copy of his new monograph, Goddess, during the book launch at Clic Bookstore and Gallery in New York. © Paula Morandarte
Cain Marcus elucidates the parameters of space in his Project Notes in the book: "Space, the immaterial element that connects the universe, can appear almost invisible and yet there are exceptional moments when the façade of our reality dissolves to give way to something extraordinary and obviously interwoven."
Image above: © Caleb Cain Marcus, Earth, bricks, humans and space, 2013, from the book Goddess / Courtesy of Caleb Cain Marcus and Clic Bookstore and Gallery, New York.
Goddess is an exploration of the way in which space can be defined and described in landscapes using light, color and atmospheric conditions. The book begins in the early dawn with images of reed thickets along the riverbanks. As the daylight brightens material signs of human activity like bricks and bridges float out of the fog. The river appears and the images pull back to reveal vistas of earth and water, with barely visible people and animals that appear tiny in the distance.
Image above: During the book launch at Clic Bookstore and Gallery in New York. © Paula Morandarte
Cain Marcus traces Ganga's course from its origins in the Himalayan mountains, following the water as it sweeps past small villages, India's booming agricultural and industrial plain and its holy cities, then pours into the Bay of Bengal. The images Cain Marcus creates on this journey push us to look deeply into soft and shimmering landscapes to see how space pervades them and connects fleeting moments with living beings and the elements of the earth. The images are beautiful and strange, transforming into deep emotional landscapes. They dissolve and re-form, delineating the atmosphere, earth, water, animals, people and air. As more human and animal activities appear by the river, the images unveil a universal tapestry whose tiny threads of interwoven elements capture the moments when space reveals its presence.
Image above: © Caleb Cain Marcus, Hay, cow dung and space II, 2013, from the book Goddess / Courtesy of Caleb Cain Marcus and Clic Bookstore and Gallery, New York.
Richard Ford considers some of Cain Marcus' aesthetic choices - to photograph the river from a distance or through fog, and to choose a color palette of translucent washes:
"All of these diverse effects, in one photograph or another cause everything in every frame to be enticingly, visually, sometimes mysteriously in play. The photographs invite us to search them, so that each image seems to expand as we view it, and by that expansion admits us to the extensiveness of land and space -- one of the moral positives these pictures imply."
Image above: Caleb Cain, and Ralph Gibson © Paula Morandarte
Goddess continues an ongoing exploration by Cain Marcus into the phenomenology of space and demonstrates that at times it is possible to see the unseen. Moving beyond predictable representations of photographic color and contrast, in Goddess, he creates a personal color lexicon by carefully building color and contrast into his images a layer at a time. Each adjustment enhances specific hues, until these alterations reach a moment when the color becomes an object-impossible to define or resist. Cain Marcus has published two previous monographs: A Portrait of Ice (Damiani, 2012) that explored glacial landscapes and The Silent Aftermath of Space (Damiani, 2010), which included a foreword by Robert Frank.