photograph, photograph magazine, photograph listings, photograph reviews, photograph exhibitions, photograph opening receptions, photograph resources, New York

About The Cover


by Lyle Rexer

We live in an age of unprecedented art, where every new work arrives without proper ID at the border of what was known. Each is sui generis, speaking a previously unheard language. We have to start from scratch, asking all the old questions over again: who are you, where did you come from, are you related to anyone we know, what are you trying to do to us? As far as photography is concerned, a few decades ago the border was pretty well controlled, and we thought we knew all the answers: it is (was) a lens-based system for producing images from light captured on a surface. Its relation to reality was broadly understood and accepted as documentary. But in a remarkable transformation, the aliens are now becoming citizens. All the elements of photography that once were invisible because they dissolved into the image by convention are now the focus of intense artistic attention. Hence so many photographs without pictures — or with pictures heretofore unimagined. Bryan Graf, whose exhibition Prismatic Tracks is on view at Yancey Richardson Gallery from October 23 to December 6 is a striking example of the new dispensation. The cover, titled Just Let Go, is a photogram, a cameraless silhouette, with just enough referential content to make it feel familiar. All that spidery mesh reminds us of Henry Fox Talbot’s early photograms of lace. But the pieces seem to be chaotically overlaid, perhaps exposed multiple times, and the random appearance of color achieved with filtering gels suggests that what we have is not a simple object, a “photogenic drawing” in Talbot’s parlance, but the record of a performance, a mixture of chance, spontaneity, and calculation. “In Bryan’s work,” says Yancey Richardson, “document and process are brought together. There is a desire for order and control and at the same time a willingness to break that order. To see the artist move around the paper to be exposed, controlling the angle and distance of his hand-held flash and pulling different color filters from each pocket at a precise moment reminds me of Pollock painting on the floor of his studio.” Action photography — but without the psychological agonizing of a previous age. Instead, perhaps, a desire to expose the making of a photograph, the better to enjoy it. Graf’s earlier work, especially the series Shot/Reverse Shot made the point more explicitly. In that series Graf used the flash from a Polaroid portrait of himself at work to create the photogram he was working on. The result was two photographs, one abstract, the other denotative, different in kind and intention but created in the same instant, in the same performance. The two were then exhibited together. It was a perfectly succinct demonstration of the proximity of realms in contemporary photography, a reminder that the borders between documentary record and experimental investigation are porous, and that once the traffic across them begins, there is no sealing them back up. Best to learn the language of these new arrivals in order to appreciate the new and exciting stories they have to tell.

 

archives

2014

September - October 2014

July - August 2014

May - June 2014

March - April 2014

January - February 2014

2013

November - December 2013

September - October 2013

July - August 2013

May - June 2013

March - April 2013

January - February 2013

2012

November - December 2012

September - October 2012

July - August 2012

May - June 2012

March - April 2012

January - February 2012

2011

November - December 2011

September - October 2011

July - August 2011

May - June 2011

March - April 2011

January - February 2011

2010

November - December 2010

September - October 2010

July - August 2010

May - June 2010

March - April 2010

January - February 2010

2009

November - December 2009

September - October 2009

July - August 2009

May - June 2009

March - April 2009

January - February 2009

2008

November - December 2008

September - October 2008

July - August 2008

May - June 2008

March - April 2008

January - February 2008

2007

November - December 2007

September - October 2007

July - August 2007

May - June 2007

March - April 2007

January - February 2007

2006

November - December 2006

September - October 2006

July - August 2006

May - June 2006

March - April 2006

January - February 2006

2005

July - August 2005

May - June 2005

March - April 2005

January - February 2005

2004