Universal Sunsets (of 6,922,112 - 2/18/10)

Penelope Umbrico


What subject do people most like to photograph and share with others? Searching on sites such as Flickr, Penelope Umbrico found that “sunset” by far gets the most hits. As of February 2010, there were 6,922,112 images tagged “sunset” on Flickr. To the artist this seemed paradoxical: photographs of the sun, symbol of warmth and enlightenment, the omnipotent provider of optimism and vitamin D, archived on that most virtual of spaces, the closed electrical circuit of the Internet. A universal image, the sun is photographed the same way around the world: at the horizon, just about to disappear. After downloading all the images of sunsets she could find that looked like this, Umbrico cropped them to feature only sun and horizon. At Toronto’s Airport, she presents 77 of these images installed as one continuous sunset, which runs the length of the moving sidewalk at Terminal 1. By positioning her artwork at a site that is by definition transitional, Umbrico reminds air travel passengers of the fleeting nature of the experiences they seek.

New York based artist Penelope Umbrico (born in Philadelphia, PA, 1957) has had numerous solo exhibitions at galleries including the International Centre for Photography, NYC. Umbrico’s work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC among others. She is currently faculty at the School of Visual Arts, NYC and the Chair of MFA Photography at Bard College. Umbrico is represented by LMAKprojects, NYC and PM Gallery, Toronto.  

Presented in partnership with The Greater Toronto Airports Authority.