Auto Body Collision by Shannon Ebner

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A late discovery but one of my remaining book favorites from 2015 was Shannon Ebner’s latest book Auto Body Collision. Ebner has always found an intersection between symbols, letters and words and photography. Whether found within the everyday or constructed in her studio, she dissects the linguistic and visual representations in unexpected and meaningful ways.
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By presenting the repetitive language of auto repair culture and subverting the intended meanings of those words, she draws a deeper metaphor of the self and the sense of interchangeability between language of the body and of the vehicle.
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Part photography, part sculpture, and part performance, this ‘artist book’ combines equal amounts of text and photographs where “…the works involve the principle of collision where artist and viewer alike are confronted with the experience of treating photography as a language to be read, seen and experienced.” She has her way of slowing down the process of reading to a stand still, causing us to linger on alternate notions of meaning in the most common phrase.
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As excited as I am about the work, I am less excited by the actual book. Ebner’s past publications, The Sun as Error (LACMA, 2009) and Strike (Mousse, 2015) were books made that felt like complete objects down to material, here though the type of paper chosen for the content, covers etc, has an feeling that doesn’t, in my opinion, suit the work. One might stretch to argue that the material feels like an auto-body repair manual but I am not convinced that was ever a consideration. Here is great work, take the body it came in, and hope someday it gets repaired.
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Auto Body Collision
Shannon Ebner
Carnegie Museum of Art
ISBN 9780880390576