Each of the twenty photographs in Jan Dibbets’s Big Comet 3º–60º Land/Sky/Land features a single image of the horizon taken at a precise angle, beginning at three degrees and ending at sixty degrees. Each photograph, in fact, consists of the same image doubled, with the right-hand copy flipped so that the ground is at the top. When these image pairs are placed together and the sections of blue-gray sky are connected, they form a single curved arc, evoking the shape of a comet’s tail. Although Dibbets began his career as a painter, in 1967 he started to create work outside of the studio, turning to the camera as the best tool to document his interventions in the landscape. In the early 1970s, the horizon became one of his central themes. Resisting the desire to take a “good” photograph in which the horizon is stable and anchors the image, Dibbets systematically adjusted the angle at which his photographs were taken, turning the horizon into a series of diagonal rather than horizontal lines. In Big Comet, Dibbets adopts this process to turn a humble, even banal image of the landscape into a spectacular celestial body.
Label from Looking at Tomorrow: Light and Language from The Panza Collection, 1967–1990, October 24, 2015–February 7, 2016