Jon Plasse: A Long & Echoing Light Notes from a Pandemic

Afterword by Chuck Kelton
Published on 03/29/2022

We each have vivid memories of the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Jon Plasse’s latest book (his third) is a visual diary of that time in his life.

Art is always, at least in part, autobiographical. This monograph, inspired by isolation, reflects a personal experience of this confinement. Rather than document the pandemic, these images present an altered view of everyday objects.

Photographed from a formalist aesthetic, Plasse renders these objects with a subtle arrangement of light and shadow, allowing them at times to fall into abstraction. The effect renders these encounters with simple objects as intense enchantments representative of an inner life.

There is a sense of aloneness in this work, a solitude, a stillness. Time seems to be absent. The photographs reflect a new state of being, an anxiety prompted by the loss of what we thought we knew, a reality where the understandable is shattered. These quiescent images seek a new balance in a disturbed world.

The absence of a subject is more than suggested in this disconnect: it becomes the subject. Held together by an occasional image of a person, the crossed hands of someone perhaps playing the piano, the collection suggests we are not alone; in fact this is a reality where people exist in a new, distilled order.

The color works are a dramatic change, relieving the tension and for a moment creating a more animated stage for a picturesque emotional encounter.  Another perception of reality is projected into this solitary environment allowing us to escape, for a moment, from this temporal trauma.

This is a diary surrounded by fragments of life that have lost their continuity, a diary that is searching for a new meaning from a vanishing past  life. What is being transformed, what is there to discover? In moments when life and images are distilled to the minimum, how will we reconstruct some type of order?