Jeff Whetstone was born in
Chattanooga, Tennessee and has been photographing and writing about the relationship
between man and nature since he received a Zoology degree from Duke University
in 1990. Whetstone served for five years as an artist-in residence at Appalshop,
Inc., a media arts center located in coalfields of eastern Kentucky. While working
at Appalshop, Whetstone was the project director for the Before the Flood exhibition
that premiered at the National Folk Festival. His photographs and writing have
been featured in Southern Changes, DoubleTake, Southern Exposure,
Daylight Magazine, GASP and elsewhere.
After receiving his MFA in photography from Yale in 2001, he was awarded the prestigious Sakier Prize for photography. Since then, his work has been exhibited internationally and received reviews in The Village Voice, New York Times, New Yorker Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. Whetstone is a tenured professor in the Art Department of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Whetstone was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007 for a body of work entitled, New Wilderness.
Whetstone’s second exhibition here in spring 2011explores the nexus of language and wilderness through narrative video, 16mm film installation, digital animation and photography. Hunters transcend gender, men write with snakes, and a landscape is made from sound-waves. Ritual and language map the wilderness and dissipate delineations of gender and species. Animal is Animal. Whetstone’s 14 minute video, On the use of a Syrinx, translates the sounds of the primeval forest into a narrative of seduction and domination, where the resplendent wilderness camouflages sexual fantasy.
Post-Pleistocene, shown here in 2008, is a study of cave markings in the Saltpetre caves of Tennessee and Alabama. Since the Civil War, when these caves were used to produce gunpowder, people of the region have been marking the cave walls. The photographs depict the primal satisfaction of mark making and the human fascination with self, sexuality, and color.