The gallery is dedicated to one work: the twelve-camera experiment that began Probst’s Exposures series and spurred a career-long study of photography’s relationship to the world, the viewer, and subjectivity. In the twenty years since its making, as Probst has explored genres including portraiture, street photography, fashion, and nudes in her Exposures, Exposure #1 has been a touchstone for her evolving understanding of the medium. It remains a game-changing proposition.
Exposure #1 comprises twelve distinct views of one action: the artist’s graceful leap on the rooftop of a high-rise building in midtown Manhattan on January 7, 2000. Here, Probst has carefully positioned twelve analog cameras on the rooftop, opened their lenses, used a strobe light to register the moment of her jump, and closed the lenses again.
Probst titles her work so that it anchors us in the precise location, date, and time of its making. From there, the artist explodes the decisive moment into a kaleidoscope of simultaneous perspectives of the same event. Seemingly contradictory images, taken from varying distances and shifting back and forth between color and black-and-white, destabilize the viewer’s belief in the image’s objectivity. They suggest that photography’s truer nature is subjective, circumstantial, and always in a negotiation with reality as it unfolds.
In Probst’s Exposures, an instant is opened up; we are given the thrilling and unnerving sense that a moment can hold infinite, unknowable possibilities. The artist has compared this to the sensation of falling, the unmoored feeling you have just before hitting the ground. The camera, we learn, can record a single moment from countless perspectives: photographs, like real-world events, can be viewed from myriad (and even conflicting) vantage points.