Shannon Ebner

July 16, 2011 - October 9, 2011


Los Angeles-based artist Shannon Ebner’s work investigates the correlations between photography and language. Informed by various modes of writing—including poetry, experimental writing, and political speech—Ebner constructs images in the studio and the landscape. She builds letters and phrases out of vernacular materials such as cardboard, wood, and cinder blocks, calling attention to the ways language and imagery are constructed. For her Hammer Project, she will exhibit a portion of an on-going project called “The Electric Comma,” which began as a poem she wrote of the same name about various conditions of the photographic, such as its alleged static nature and its vocation of describing events of the past. The poem, or as Ebner refers to it, “the photographic sentence,” seeks to enliven the image by subjecting it to various challenges that ask the photograph to perform outside its usual function of reporting or depicting events, people, places, and things of our time.

In addition to the presentation at the Hammer, works from “The Electric Comma” are simultaneously on display at LAXART in Culver City and in Venice, Italy as part of the 54th Venice Biennale. Portions of “The Electric Comma” have been made into works that are exhibited in all three locations. At the Hammer, Ebner will present two multi-panel large photographic works in Gallery 6 on the courtyard level, and the project will continue outside the gallery with a new piece made specifically for the light boxes leading to the Billy Wilder Theater. The light box work will spell out the word “asterisk,” an element of language and design that has long been featured in the artist’s work, and the boxes will be on a timed lighting sequence so that particular letters and groupings of letters will continuously flash, suggestive of a signal or mechanism for sending and receiving information. In addition to photographs and a video on view at LAXART, Ebner will present an outdoor sculpture in an empty lot in Culver City. An 8-foot tall plywood ampersand titled ‘and, per se and,’ Ebner considers the form and meaning of the ampersand to signify the continual construction and/or incompleteness of meaning between the various aspects of the project and their diverse locations. The Hammer’s presentation is organized by Anne Ellegood, Hammer senior curator.

LAXART is located at 2640 S. La Cienega. The outdoor sculpture is located at the northwest corner of Washington Boulevard at Centinela Avenue.



By Anne Ellegood

One of the striking qualities of Gertrude Stein’s writing is her use of what she called a “prolonged” or “continuous” present. Her habitual use of the present tense, coupled with her propensity for repetition, kept her readers in a state of perpetual contemporaneity. Remaining in the present tense gave her writing a sense of immediacy and directness and, paradoxically, did not result in a condition of stasis but instead kept things moving. An American who spent much of her life in Paris, Stein considered this sense of movement to be a particularly American attribute and one that she associated with her own writing: “I am always trying to tell this thing that a space of time is a natural thing for an American to always have inside them as something in which they are continuously moving. Think of anything, of cowboys, of movies, of detective stories, of anybody who goes anywhere or stays at home and is an American and you will realize that it is something strictly American to conceive a space that is filled with moving, a space of time that is filled always filled with moving.” (1) More


Shannon Ebner’s Hammer Project is a collaboration with LAXART where the exhibition continues in the gallery and with a concurrent public art project, part of the on-going programmatic partnership between the Hammer and LAXART.

Hammer Projects is made possible with major gifts from Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy and The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

Additional generous support is provided by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission; Good Works Foundation and Laura Donnelley; L A Art House Foundation; Kayne Foundation—Ric & Suzanne Kayne and Jenni, Maggie & Saree; the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles; and the David Teiger Curatorial Travel Fund.

Hammer Projects: Shannon Ebner has also received support from Stacy and John Rubeli.


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