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JoAnn Verburg. Untitled (Sally + Ricardo). 1982

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JoAnn Verburg (American, born 1950)

Untitled (Sally + Ricardo)

Gelatin silver print
21 1/4 x 30 1/16" (54 x 76.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Acquired through the generosity of Celeste G. Bartos
MoMA Number:
© 2015 JoAnn Verburg
Audio Program excerpt

Present Tense: Photographs by JoAnn Verburg

, July 15–November 5, 2007

Artist, JoAnn Verburg: Untitled (Sally + Ricardo) is a photograph that I made in a swimming pool in Minneapolis in the dead of winter. There had just been an election—I guess it was 1980 and I really had a lot of doubts about my country. So, I think the swimming pictures partly come out of my need to express a feeling of things being out of balance, of things being out of whack. And the spaces where those people are, and that they're floating, but where is up and where is down in that picture doesn't seem that clear.

I love the waterline in the swimmers' pictures. You see it around peoples' faces, or little places across their skin. In Sally + Ricardo there's a sense that she's being held up by the water, but also that she's partly beneath the water, and that's a separation of two worlds there. And I'm in a world that's separated from Sally's world, and yet, she's looking at the camera, she’s looking at me, she's looking at you. So there is a sense of connection between all these worlds.

When I began the series of swimming photographs, I was planning to use my eight by ten camera, but I was afraid that it would fall in the water. So, I decided to use a camera that I had that was more replaceable, and a format for that was five inch by seven inch film. One of the reasons I used the five by seven camera is that the big negative that I get makes it possible to make certain parts of an image very, very sharp. It's also possible to make things very soft focus. And I like the combination. It's maybe the equivalent of a lot of paintings where someone will do fine brush work and then, in another part of the painting, use broad brush strokes.

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