A Thousand Rainbows

Firmament's Blossom, 2011. C-print. 40 x 40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm) Edition of 5, 2 APs © Lia Chavez

Firmament's Blossom, 2011. C-print. 40 x 40 inches (101.6 x 101.6 cm) Edition of 5, 2 APs © Lia Chavez

A Thousand Rainbows is a body of 25 large-scale photographic works exploring the nature of interpersonal, material, and spiritual relationships through the manipulation of light.

The title of the work references the Tibetan Buddhist notion of the “rainbow body” and, more broadly, the varied concepts of illumination within cross-cultural narratives of the body in the afterlife. This rebelliously non-digital photography highlights Chavez’s virtuosic approach to photographic light which is founded upon her observation of fundamental physical phenomena such as time, space, motion, and luminosity.

Adopting the metaphor of dark matter from astronomy and cosmology, the photographs relate to a new way of understanding photography to incorporate the visible effects of invisible presence. According to Chavez, “from observing the physical universe, we know that form is the manifestation of relationship between two forces. I recreate this dialectical drama - between myself and my model - within the microcosm of the studio in order to probe objects hidden within deep inner space. I am present within each frame dressed in black as a stagehand as I invisibly direct and illuminate the process.”

It is the subject of the photography monograph, Lia Chavez: A Thousand Rainbows, which was recently released by Damiani. The book gathers together this new body of work and comprehensively discusses the science and mysticism underpinning it, specifically examining Chavez’s treatment of the nude as a vehicle for exploring a topology of the universe. The book features essays by cultural critic Andrea Codrington Lippke and cultural historian Mark Sprinkle and a foreword written by Lia Chavez.

Although Chavez draws much of her inspiration from physics and advanced imaging technologies, her visual investigations deal equally with basic themes in the history of art. Her photographs raise classical issues in new ways, among them the depiction of three-dimensional figure on a two-dimensional surface, the relationship between abstraction and representation, and the role of performance in the still image.

Disorienting, unsettling, and strangely beautiful, A Thousand Rainbows delves into the material and spiritual essence of the nude figure. In the book, Codrington Lippke writes, “Sexual and spiritual ravishment exist in parallel planes that interconnect in mysterious ways—one of which, Chavez suggests, is art.”

This work was created alongside model-dancers. Digital manipulation was not used.

Selected Press Damiani