Marilyn Bridges Photography


“From the vantage point of an angel, the earth must always be beautiful. From Marilyn Bridges' single-engine Cessna, hovering low at the approximate altitude of an angel with wing trouble, the earth tends to be dark, ambiguous, laced with a mournful poetry. The planet's skin is crumpled and worn and scarred with mysterious designs. Someone long ago left signs here, certain they would be recognized: giants and serpents, on a preposterous scale, that stared at the sky unseen till the advent of the airplane. Today the earth's surface is marked with highways and water towers and precisely plowed fields. Serpents, towers, plow marks – they all have a meaning, if only one knows the language.”

– Vicki Goldberg, critic New York Times

“Marilyn Bridges, photographer, pilot and explorer, illuminates the bonds between the mark-makers of 3,000 B.C. and the builders of our modern cities. Ancient or contemporary, Bridges' landscapes serve the dual role of interpreting the power of extraordinary sites and creating visual records that may prove to be the only means of preserving these sites against the eroding elements of time and neglect.”

– Willis Hartshorn, Director, International Center of Photography

“For me, there's no other way to understand her photography without comprehending her continual hunt for secrets and mysteries. For her, the face of the earth is one glyph after another shrouded in shadows to be exposed and interpreted . . . Indeed, her hallmark is shadow, the sharp delineation of absent light. One could easily turn the etymology of photograph on its ear and call a Bridges aerial landscape an umbragraph, where darkness explains things – or at least exposes them – far more comprehensively than light does.”

– William Least Heat-Moon, author of Blue Highways

“Bridges' pictures differ from most aerial photographs as paintings differ from maps. They have power, these photographs, and a tantalizing appeal. It's as though the half-mile drawings, the spirals, stick people, owl men and snakes still keep certain, silent secrets . . . Bridges' pictures help us feel the force.”

– Camera Arts

“Marilyn Bridges has been hanging out of open airplane doors, suspending herself over space, shooting landscapes from above . . . like some combination of Ansel Adams, and Indiana Jones -- artist and adventurer, the coltishly attractive photographer has been drawn to ancient, sacred sites . . . Shot in black and white, her pictures are marked by a melancholy that hangs over the scene, a kind of mournful poetry. There is an isolation, a longing in her images.”

– Wall Street Journal

“Formally striking and archeologically fascinating, the pictures also inspire awe at Bridges' bravery. She got a pilot's license to conquer her fear of flying in small planes. Plus, in the air, there is no time to focus.”

– Robin Cembalest, ART News

“From the ground, they [the Nazca lines in Peru] are nothing, invisible; from Ms. Bridges' elevated view they gain coherence and project an imaginative grandeur and whimsicality that leave most other art – and photography – looking distinctly earth-bound.”

– Holland Cotter, New York Times

“Marilyn Bridges' quartet of images from Egypt powerfully convey the immense scale of the pyramids and of Karnak, the vast temple of the pharaohs, letting us fully appreciate their dominance of the landscape. Bridges also playfully marries the solid and the insubstantial, as vast shadows extend from or cover the funerary architecture and its ground-burdening bulk.”

– Mark Feeney, Boston Globe

“Marilyn Bridges’ images show us an America sub specie aeternitatis, in the light of eternity, as a passing angel might register its enormous vanities and emptiness. Here is an austere and withering perspective that cuts us (in an antique way) down to size . . . For me these photographs do what every photographer (and traveler) strives for – they show us the world from so fresh an angle that our home looks like another planet, and the things we take for granted seem curious to us . . . as if seen through the eyes of a roaming Martian. They make us strange and haunting to ourselves.”

– Pico Iyer, Condι Nast Traveler

“Bridges' work is the genuine article, a series of steely black-and-whites that have the elemental feel of true artistic balance; technical mastery, strength of purpose, a sense of discovery that is breathtaking without resorting to gimmickry . . . In small, single engine planes the photographer (who became a pilot) flew over both known and obscure areas of the Earth to make portraits of places that evoke inferences of the people who so long ago fashioned their surfaces: Nazca Indian lines on the pampa of Peru; Mayan architecture in the Yucatan; Indian burial mounds and other landscapes in the USA . . . Such pictographic vividness might be compared to the oral tradition of story telling: Ancient knowledge is passed on to the listener (viewer) in metaphoric form that makes no pretense as to factual origin or intent. The photographs reverberate with a sense that time has built up a visual code and that it behooves us to decipher, these compelling clues to our past . . . Bridges' camera, spare and honest, doesn't waste time or space, those informing ingredients in the very temporal art of the photograph.”

– Calvin Alhgren, San Fransisco Chronicle

“Like the Andean condor, Marilyn Bridges has agile wings and penetrating eyes. Her book Planet Peru would have been impossible without her extraordinary ability to hover above her objects and capture them with a lens of exceptional fidelity . . . From high above we see legendary Peru, this immense cemetery of dead cities, this land of sparks of genius and of unfinished works . . . Peru remains a mysterious country. Bridges' important and sensitive photographs will, it is to be hoped, act as a catalyst to tempt investigators to search for other unexposed treasures from Peru's past.”

– Fernando Belaunde Terry, President of Peru, 1963-68, 1980-85

“These photographs are extraordinary, beautiful; after looking at them, it is difficult to come back to earth.”

– Ann Morrow Lindbergh


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