History's Shadow

David Maisel


California Museum of Photography

August 31 - December 31, 2010


Opening Reception

Thursday, October 7, 2010, 6pm - 9pm


David Maisel's early projects were aerial photography of desolated or congested landscapes. But his recent work has moved from that macrocosmic view to a nearly microcosmic one. History's Shadow is a body of work still in progress that, like his previous series, Library of Dust, relies upon an irreducibly simple idea. His great insight is just to have recognized that there was a remarkable subject where nobody had ever thought to look for one. The subjects are X-rays of classical Western or Asian sculpture originally made for conservation purposes. Maisel simply puts these X-rays on a light box and photographs each from the same, direct, full-frame point of view. The reticence of his approach is necessary because the subject itself is so powerfully symbolic, as if we were getting a glimpse inside history itself.