Ben Peyer
Fool! I am the Fates’ lieutenant

March 2nd - April 15th, 2018

Opening reception, Friday March 2nd, 5-9 PM, open to the public

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Fool! I am the Fates’ lieutenant is a three-part meditation inspired by a central theme in one of my favorite novels, Moby Dick: how chance, free will, and fate “interweavingly work together” to produce our lives. In Moby Dick, the narrator’s philosophy is Stoical, which suggests we concern ourselves exclusively with things under our control. Ahab—tragic protagonist rather than villain—drives himself mad and causes the deaths of himself and all but one of his crew by fighting precisely those things that aren’t for him to choose: chance and fate. It is difficult to imagine that artistic beauty could exist without the limits of medium. Likewise, a life of peace and freedom simply can’t exist without conceding that some things aren’t for us to choose. The inspiration of this work is the beauty, freedom, and peace made possible through embracing limits on what one can know, choose, or be.

Part 1: Chance, or limits on what one can know
            So man’s insanity is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason, man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to reason, is absurd and
            frantic; and weal or woe, feels then uncompromised, indifferent as his God.

Part 1 consists of five minimalist panning shots, photographs I often take when I arrive on location. Removing details of a scene opens my mind to what the landscape has to provide.

Part 2: Compulsion, or limits on what one can choose
             What is it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is it; what cozening, hidden lord and master, and cruel, remorseless emperor commands me; that
             against all natural lovings and longings, I so keep pushing, and crowding, and jamming myself on all the time; recklessly making me ready to do what in my
             own proper, natural heart, I durst not so much as dare? Is Ahab, Ahab? Is it I, God, or who, that lifts this arm?

Part 2 is nine long-exposure photographs (six of which are included in this show) of a cedar log caught in an eddy in the Brule river in northern Minnesota. When I first saw the log out of the corner of my eye, I thought it was a deer who had fallen into the water and couldn’t get out. I was relieved on multiple levels when I realized it was only a log, but these pictures still make me feel as if I’m witnessing a desperate struggle.

Part 3: Fate, or limits on what one can be
            Ahab is for ever Ahab, man. This whole act’s immutably decreed. ’Twas rehearsed by thee and me a billion years before this ocean rolled. Fool! I am the     
           Fates’ lieutenant; I act under orders.

Part 3 consists of 10 photographs (seven of which are included in this show) of bubbles frozen in lake ice. Temperature variations cause upheavals in lake ice, and under certain conditions, for just a few hours, a clear profile view becomes available. These are macro photographs with extremely shallow depth of field; focus and composition each changed drastically depending on whether I had just inhaled or exhaled.