Ralph Gibson, Doorknob, New York, 1975

Ralph Gibson (American, b. 1939), Doorknob, New York, from the portfolio Artifact, 1975

Ralph Gibson (American, b. 1939), Doorknob, New York, 1975 from the portfolio Artifact, 1975, Gelatin Silver Print, 12 3/8 x 8 ¼ in. Gift of Dr. Kristaps J. Keggi, 1987.317.3

“The fact of a doorframe,” as poet Adrienne Rich might put it, is only the beginning. Its solidity offers us “something to hold onto” at the threshold where dreams materialize. Here the strong lighting of what is not a knob at all but the long curve of a handle produces inscrutable shadows so dark they appear like solids—as if we could take hold of the other side of the narrow band of door as easily as we might press it open. The opening might seem to usher us across the threshold and into parts unseen. And yet the curves of the handle and its double locks hold our attention. They are framed to take on a life of their own in their resemblance to parts onto which we might wish to take hold.