Jenny Calivas’s Surface Thing exhibition at Light Work presents works about the body and the earth in ways that are spiritual, feminist, and ecological through a humorous and existential perspective. The show comprises of three photographic projects made between 2018 and 2021, Mouthing, Self-Portraits While Buried, and Birth Rehearsal, all of which portray various types of self-portraits. 

Calivas’ black and white images can unexpectedly taunt us, at once generous and withholding, still and active. Her pictures are part of photography’s long conversation about the tension between chance (the decisive moment) and control (the staged). The weight of this exhibition, Self-Portraits While Buried, features photographs where she has buried herself in the earth from which she sometimes seems to re-emerge as well. These photographs live in the realm of female experience and feminist making; the work suggests a new creation myth, a maternal purging or dissolving of the original form to make way for a new body.