A Different Kind of Order: The International Center of Photography Triennial
International Center of Photography, New York
Gideon Mendel, Shopkeeper Suparat Taddee, Chumchon Ruamjai Community, Bangkok, Thailand, November 2011
The ubiquity of digital imagery and the profound changes wrought by the Internet and social media are underlying themes of the International Center of Photography’s broad and thought-provoking triennial, A Different Kind of Order. But the 28 artists included in the show, on view through September 8, have responded to this shift in inventive, often unpredictable ways. Some, born in the 1980s or later, never experienced a shift at all, having grown up immersed in digital media.
One gratifying aspect of the show is the perseverance of the handcrafted, unique object. Elliott Hundley’s Pentheus, based on Euripides’s The Bacchae, is a wall-sized three-dimensional collage. The underlying image is covered with bits of type, cut-out figures from Hundley’s own photographs, and found images and objects, attached to the work with long pins. Small magnifying glasses positioned throughout the piece enlarge certain of the photographic fragments. Astonishing in its detail and complexity, the work explores tragedy, storytelling, and consumer culture.
Elliott Hundley, Pentheus, 2010
Other pieces in the show also engage in some form of collage, a practice that is both well established and suited to the moment's multiplicity of images. Japanese photographer Sohei Nishino assembled maps of city neighborhoods that look at first glance like off-kilter Google street views. Rather, the works are made up of individual photographs that Nishino took as he wandered the streets, block by block, then painstakingly reassembled. They are impressionistic renderings of a place, which makes them among the many works in the show to question the reality represented in a photograph.
Sohei Nishino, New York, from the series Diorama Maps, 2006
The reality presented by the mass media, in particular, is addressed by a number of artists, including Gideon Mendel, whose beautiful, somber color photographs depict the increasing incidence of flooding around the world. Mendel goes to places – Haiti, Thailand, Nigeria – weeks after the storms have left, to find that the waters haven’t gone down, help is not on the way, and nobody is reporting it. The people, by necessity, are going about their business, cooking, opening their stores, wading through water than is sometimes chest high.
And then there is Thomas Hirschhorn’s video, Touching Reality, compiled of shockingly graphic images of violence around the world that would not be printed in the mainstream media. The video show the images scrolling by on an iPad, pushed across the screen by a manicured female hand, suggesting a viewer far removed from the violence depicted. The piece is excruciatingly difficult to watch, which is of course the point. Are these images edifying or obscene? The triennial is powerful precisely because the curators have chosen artists who ask such difficult questions.
— By Jean Dykstra 06/11/2013
JR / Jose Parla, Wrinkles of the City, Havana Cuba
Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York
JR / Jose Parla, Luisa Maria Miranda Olilva. Courtesy Bruce Wolkowitz Gallery
The peripatetic French artist JR travels the globe armed with a camera, an ambitious vision, and an apparently outsized capacity to turn it into a reality. His Women Are Heroes project in the favelas of Rio in 2008 was an inspired feat of installation art. JR (he won’t give his full name) and his crew pasted house-sized black-and-white photographs of the eyes of local women onto the houses in the favela. From afar, the women’s faces and eyes looked down over the neighborhood, observant, watchful reminders of their presence in the often-violent streets.
The artist, who has called himself a photograffeur, suggesting a combination of photographer and graffiti artist, has done the Women Are Heroes project in other violence-ridden places as well, including Cambodia and Kenya. In 2011, when he was 28, he became the youngest winner of the TED Prize, and he is using the prize money for Inside/Out, which he calls a global participatory art project.
JR / Jose Parla, Lorenze y Obdulia Manzano. Courtesy Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery
Now, the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery is showing a small but effective selection of work from JR’s series Wrinkles of the City (on view through July 12), a collaboration with the Cuban American painter Jose Parla. The pair photographed 25 elderly residents of Havana who had lived through the Cuban Revolution, then pasted their photographs onto the sides of crumbling buildings around the city. The photographs are homages to the city’s senior citizens, their ghostly presence a symbol of the city’s collective memory.
Parla surrounded the photographs with calligraphic tangles of paint, which suggest an impenetrable foreign language, but also a symbolic tribute. In an image of a bearded man in a straw derby, the lines and swirls seem to flood from his mind, like thoughts or dreams. In another, of a woman whose eyes are closed, they envelop her like music. Like the work of other street artists who have moved into the commercial art world (Banksy, Robin Rhode), the political and social documentary impact of the work is diminished in the hushed confines of a gallery. It belongs in the noisy chaos of the streets. But even in the Wolkowitz Gallery, the affectionate humanism of JR’s portraits is irresistible.
— By Jean Dykstra 06/06/2013
David Hilliard: The Tale is True
Carroll And Sons, Boston
David Hilliard, Ebb. Courtesy Carroll and Sons
Raymond Chandler once remarked, “Fiction in any form has always intended to be realistic.” Photographer David Hilliard artfully weaves together compelling narratives by altering focus and perspective in a multi-paneled format that unfolds like a short story and feels utterly true. Earlier work examined his own familial relationships, especially with his father, so it is fitting that this show at Carroll and Sons, documented another father and son, who share a weathered seaside home in Provincetown.
David Hilliard, Wiser Than Despair. Courtesy Carroll and Sons
Surrounded by water and light, these two are steeped in a Yankee spirit of frugality that is both comfort and albatross. Peeling wallpaper, musty old books and statuettes of silent, ancient mariners are buoyed by paintings of heroic schooners and windows filled with bright sunshine. The struggle between intransigence and determination suffuses all ten pieces. In the four-paneled Wiser than Despair, father and son inhabit separate frames even though they occupy the same table. Reading from a dictionary, the father is adjacent to the son, who flips through the pages of a worn book. Behind them two windows bleached by sunlight offer a stark contrast to their stilted pursuits. In the three-paneled Ebb, the son wades deeply into the center panel of an ocean panorama. A tattoo just below his neck of three fish swimming in a circle makes a distinctive focal point against the heavy fog hanging on the horizon. Although he and the fish appear poised to dive into the water, the way his left hand timidly pushes at the water’s surface suggests otherwise. A skilled storyteller, Hilliard manages to wring compassion for this seaside pair and their crumbling abode.
— By Edie Bresler 05/31/2013
Japan's Modern Divide: Photographs by Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto
Getty Center, Los Angeles
Kansuke Yamamoto, Giving Birth to a Joke
In 1974, MoMA staged the exhibition New Japanese Photography. John Szarkowski, who co-organized the show with Japanese critic Shoji Yamagishi, said at the time, “The quality most central to recent Japanese photography is its concern for the description of immediate experience,” attributing this to the fact that pre-WWII pictorialism no longer seemed suitable for conveying how the world looked and felt.
Even if the MoMA show failed to make these Japanese photographers (like Daido Moriyama or Shigeru Tamura) half as well known in the U.S. as their Western conterparts, it did capture the interest of collector Sam Wagstaff, who began acquiring certain Japanese photographers’ work. The Getty purchased the Wagstaff collection in 1984, which eventually spurred the institution’s interest in work by certain now-historic Japanese photographers, including two who weren’t in the 1974 New Photography show but could have been: Hiroshi Hamaya (1915-1999) and Kansuke Yamamoto (1914-1987). The Getty’s current exhibition, Japan’s Modern Divide: The Photographs of Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto (on view through August 25), feels like something of a visual compare-and-contrast essay.
Hiroshi Hamaya, Rice Harvesting, Yamagata Prefecture
When you enter the first few rooms of the exhibition, installed in the Getty’s lower level photography galleries, you see only in-the-moment images by Hamaya: women planting rice, men fishing in the snow. He had a journalist’s eye for quick poetry but there’s a softness to his images that differentiates them from work in the photo magazines of the day—where Life’s W. Eugene Smith tended to have stark shadows across the faces of the figures he photographed, Hamaya lets faces disappear into scarves and coats.
Subsequent rooms feature work by Yamamoto, who is not photojournalistic in the least. Instead, we have A Chronicle of Drifting, a black-and-white photograph of a well-dressed woman with a ship drawn over her head moving across the picture plane, or Buddhist Temple Birdcage, of a telephone inside a cage, a picture that recalls Man Ray or Herbert Bayer, both slightly older than Yamamoto. His photographs, so clearly experiments with form and function, are cooler, more clinical than Hamaya’s.
The point of Modern Divide is to trace, through these artists, two trajectories in Japanese photography from the 1930s on: one toward the documentary, one toward the surreal. The fact that this accords with trajectories developing elsewhere in the world—photojournalism and surrealism were thriving in Europe and the Americas as well—makes the exhibition feel more like an opportunity to muse about convergences than any rigid proposition about Japan’s art history.
Consider the following: In 1949, the year Yamamoto made that image of his drifting, ship-headed woman, Hamaya was at work on his series, Calendar Days of Asa Hamaya, which showed his wife in traditional Kimono with hair perfectly piled on top of her head, mending or writing letters. She seems to be drifting through days with a ritualistic poise that makes her seem as much like a fantasy as Yamamoto’s woman. Here, the surreal and real are not so far apart.
— By Catherine Wagley 05/28/2013
Michael Jang: The Jangs
Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San Francisco
Michael Jang, Monroe and Cynthia Watching T.V., 1973. Courtesy Stephen Wirtz Gallery
The early 1970s were a peak moment for images of evolving family structures, with California being a kind of locus for the practice. The look and feel of a burgeoning suburban culture were rooted as much in photographs of architecture—codified by the New Topographics exhibition in 1975—as in pictures of the people who lived in those soulless subdivisions. Bill Owens published Suburbia, witty, almost ethnographic, photographs of Northern California housing developments and their occupants in 1972—and the book has maintained classic status ever since. The PBS proto-reality show An American Family was first broadcast in 1973, revealing a charismatically ordinary clan as they weathered divorce, financial strife, and a gay son who comes out on national television.
Michael Jang, Chris in Record Store, 1973. Courtesy Stephen Wirtz Gallery
Michael Jang’s black-and-white pictures of his extended Chinese American family were taken that same year, though they weren’t widely seen. (Full disclosure: Jang is included in an October 2013 group show I’ve organized for the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.) If the aforementioned photographers captured a middle-class white America, Jang traffics in a new demographics that were perhaps harder to contextualize back then. The Jangs, on view at Stephen Wirtz Gallery through July 3, includes shots of the artist’s aunts, uncles, and cousins within all the trappings of suburbia from that era. His family resides in a modernist beach house decorated with shag carpet and kitschy flower power decals, but the charge comes from an unusual sense of family intimacy conveyed with a journalistic eye. Jang reveals a merger of middle-class cultures—Chinese and American—by highlighting lifestyle choices with astute composition. Chris in Record Store shows an adolescent Asian boy holding a Ziggy Stardust LP, with David Bowie’s pale, decorated eyes cast downward. A 1970s-era Pepsi cup on a record shelf nods to the decade’s taste and commercial design. The musical selection counters stereotypes and restrictive identity politics with easy naturalism. So does Monroe and Cynthia Watching T.V., in which a dad and daughter, reclining on a faux fur recliner, contemplate a broadcast blonde.
A young photographer at the time, Jang seems enrapt by the likes of Lisette Model (whose summer workshop he was taking at the time) and Garry Winogrand, whose work he emulates in Self Portrait, San Francisco Financial District, the California Street sign featured conspicuously in the background. The picture, like the other works here, slips comfortably into a rich history of American photography.
— By Glen Helfand 05/24/2013
David Levinthal: War Games
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
David Levinthal, Untitled (from Hitler Moves East), 1975.
Seeing David Levinthal's soft-focus photographs of toy soldiers and cowboys, poised again for the battles of World War II, the horrors of the Holocaust, and the rigors of Manifest Destiny, I was drawn to his picture of a half-opened package of toy soldiers, with some figures still tethered to the box by umbilical wires. This group portrait of boy-toys, taken before they were drafted into Levinthal's wars, seemed somehow full of possibility.
Levinthal is known for his photos of staged toys, especially soldiers and cowboys, but also Barbies, Japanese sex dolls, and blackface figurines. In his latest show, though, David Levinthal: War Games, at the Corcoran Gallery of Art through September 1, the curators, a group of undergraduates at the Corcoran College of Art + Design, have focused solely on his war scenes.
The exhibition begins with his work from the 1970s, when Levinthal, a graduate student in photography at Yale, met Garry Trudeau (of Doonesbury fame) and with him created Hitler Moves East – a series faux-documenting the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union, which includes Levinthal's iconic image of an exploding soldier (created with the help of powder and pins). It runs all the way to Levinthal's recent series of digital photos, titled I.E.D., about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
David Levinthal, Untitled (from IED), 2008.
It's fascinating to see the subtle shifts in a career that, in some ways, has hardly evolved. For his first series, Levinthal imagined, in the absence of real photographic evidence, how the Russian steppes must have appeared to the invading Germans. These pictures have surprising pathos. You feel for those faux freezing men. The same holds true for Levinthal's giant cowboy Polaroids. The hazy, orange-tinged images evoke something mythic – the feeling of being on the range.
In other works, though, Levinthal enters a world of already-photographed scenes whose look he tries to match. One recent Civil War reconstruction mimics an Alexander Gardner photo. And Levinthal's depictions of the Iraq War are colored green because that's the way the photo-documentary images (taken through night-vision lenses) look. The focus isn't on the soldiers but on the visual shorthand that tells us what war we're looking at. Green means Iraq; ovens mean Holocaust. It's a cold logic.
As Levinthal has aged, his stance toward his toys seems less childlike. Baudelaire wrote, “The overriding desire of most little brats … is to get at and see the soul of their toys.” Once upon a time, Levinthal played with his toys as if to get at their souls. Now he plays with them as if he's certain they have none.
— By Sarah Boxer 05/21/2013
Mike Brodie's Period of Juvenile Prosperity
Mike Brodie, from A Period of Juvenile Prosperity
The bad news for admirers of Mike Brodie’s raw and romantic photographs of youthful train hoppers is that Brodie seems to be done with photography. “Being an artist all my life is not realistic,” he told the LA Times. “This was all kind of an accident.” His work was shown by Yossi Milo in New York and M+B in Los Angeles earlier this spring, but the attention did not make Brodie particularly comfortable. He graduated recently from the Nashville Auto Diesel College and is currently working as an auto mechanic.
Mike Brodie, from A Period of Juvenile Prosperity
The good news is that Brodie published a book of his work before walking away from the field. A Period of Juvenile Prosperity (Twin Palms), is a collection of his photographs of fellow train travelers, which Brodie initially uploaded to the Internet under the name The Polaroid Kidd. There, the work was spotted by various photo enthusiasts. The first edition of the book has sold out.
Brodie hopped on his first freight train in Pensacola, Florida, when he was 17 and continued traveling around the country by freight train for ten years, covering 46 states. The pictures are social documents of a community of restless, radical young people living off the grid, as intimate as Nan Goldin’s photographs of her friends and lovers. They’re also poetic, frank, occasionally breathtaking and sometimes harrowing. They document a decidedly American adventure, On the Road for the 21st century. The train hoppers are dirty, sometimes bloody, young and rebellious in style and attitude, but the photographs are entirely seductive. I'd love to see more pictures from Brodie, but there's something wonderul about the fact that he could care less.
— By Jean Dykstra 05/14/2013
Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago
Julie Henry, You'll Never Walk Alone, 1999. Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Photography
What if we were to scream at artworks the way we yell at football on TV? What if the number of people who attended the Whitney Biennial rivaled the number of people who watched the Super Bowl? These questions bubble up in Spectator Sports (at the Museum of Contemporary Photography through July 3, 2013), the latest exhibition to attempt a synergistic pairing of an odd couple: art and sports. The arranged marriage is a bold move in Chicago, a sports and art town whose fans are more like addicts of the gallery or the game—but rarely both. (Bad at Sports is the name of a long-running art podcast hosted in Chicago.)
Both the art world and the sports industry are built on foundations of fantasy, faithfully maintained by legions of fans. With photographs, drawings, film, video, and a video-game by ten artists, spanning the years 1978 to 2013, the exhibition elaborates on the postmodern conceit that to watch a game is also to participate in it. To that end, Michelle Grabner’s seven untitled cell-phone pictures of a televised football game magnify the hall-of-mirrors experience of watching from multiple sidelines (the living room, the gallery). But they still embody the thrill of being on an extended team of players and spectators, in that Grabner’s football photos are a nod to Nancy Holt, who, as a girl, was told by her parents she could not watch televised sports because she was a girl. Later in her career, Holt snapped photos of televised football games in reflective revolt. Grabner revives Holt’s project with her own images. This is what it feels like to be on a team with people whom you may never meet.
Vesna Pavlovic, Untitled, from The Watching Project. Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Photography
The exhibition also claims that athletes are artists. Their skill, grace, and musculature are willed into intention, like artworks. While the athlete-as-artist analogy is not especially a game-changer for contemporary art discourse (or for the sports industry), it can lead to an exhibition of dynamic artworks. A gallery of ancient Greek sportsmen in marble or glazed ceramic definitely gets the heart racing, as does a video installation by Julie Henry, titled Going Down (1999). The video is close-cropped on rows of spectators at a stadium game, and looped. They cheer and chant for the home team, and sulk when scored on. You walk in-between these two large video projections, and you feel elated, like a player.
— By Jason Foumberg 05/09/2013
Joshua Lutz: Hesitating Beauty
ClampArt, New York
Joshua Lutz, The Coming Insurrection. Courtesy ClampArt
Giving up the notion of the photograph as fact can free you up to use photographs to tell a different kind of truth. In Hesitating Beauty, his intimate exhibition at Clampart through May 18, Joshua Lutz has assembled photographs – his own and old family photos – letters and other documents to try to get at his experience of his mother’s schizophrenia. (His haunting book of the same name was published in 2012 by Schilt.)
Lutz’s photographs move in and out of clarity, from representational photographs to abstract images, from concrete pictures of his mother in the hospital to allusive photographs like Praying for the Mantis, in which a sun-dappled spider web has trapped a Praying Mantis. The web, whose occupant lies in wait, is suspended like a veil over the view of a suburban street, with trees and well-tended lawns. The scene is simultaneously treacherous and lovely.
Joshua Lutz, Praying for the Mantis. Courtesy ClampArt
The narrative Lutz creates is undependable and deeply disconcerting, a complicated portrait of his lived reality growing up with a mentally ill parent. Lutz has written about “resting in a place of uncertainty” in Hesitating Beauty: “There is not a declarative bone in my body that knows where the truth lies when it comes to understanding my mother’s illness and its rippling effect on my family.” These photographs defy understanding, but the sense of confusion they create is not a failure on the part of the photographer but his intention.
— By Jean Dykstra 05/02/2013
Shiprock and Mont St. Michel: Photographs by William Clift
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe
William Clift, Mont St. Michel, France
Santa Fe-based landscape photographer William Clift is an artist with exceptional vision and impeccable technique. His black-and-white images of the desert Southwest transcend straight documentation – an aesthetic first established in the 19th century by the likes of Eadweard Muybridge, William Henry Jackson, and John Hillers and continued by 20th-century photographers Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Laura Gilpin.
Clift’s expertise is fully on display in the exhibit Shiprock and Mont St. Michel: Photographs by William Clift at the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe through September 8. The exhibition was curated by Rebecca Senf and organized by the Center for Creative Photography and the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona. In two separate but related groups of work that span almost four decades (1973 – 2010), the show features approximately 70 gelatin silver prints that convey places both natural and manmade, each endowed with spirituality.
Clift’s observations of Mont St. Michel – an 8th-century Romanesque/Gothic monastery set atop a rocky, tidal island in northern France –include stairways, doorways, flying buttresses, cloisters, cast shadows, and surrounding waters that convey not only a sense of place and its unique location, but also a deep-felt sacredness. Indeed, Clift’s views of the monastery’s passageways recall Frederick H. Evans’ photographs of Mont St. Michel in the early 1900s. When Clift turns his camera to the outer banks to capture the silhouette of Mont St. Michel cast in shadow over the sea, its jagged profile echoes that of the volcanic outcropping of Shiprock, located half a world away in northwestern New Mexico.
So named by early explorers for its semblance to a clipper ship sailing across the desert, Shiprock, like Mont St. Michel, rises dramatically above a flat plain and has long been seen by indigenous peoples of the American Southwest as a place of mythological import and sanctity. Clift’s perspectives of Shiprock fully mark those qualities, while the isolated spectacle of Shiprock recalls some of the dramatic rock formations taken by Timothy O’Sullivan during his sojourn with the 40th Parallel Survey in 1867.
— By Douglas Fairfield 04/27/2013
SFMOMA, San Francisco
Garry Winogrand, Park Avenue, New York, 1959. Courtesy San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The exhaustive Garry Winogrand retrospective at SFMoMA, with more than 300 pictures, is both enthralling and visually fatiguing. The show is arranged somewhat thematically—based on region, subject, and demeanor-- and bookended by early and late work. Winogrand’s career-making New York images, which capture the verve of the city with all manner of human interaction, be it iconic street photographs or pictures of glamorous galas and nightclubs, begin the show. These works capture an optimistic vibrancy that reflects a prospering America, though they are tinged with some social criticism that comes to full flower in the later, lesser-known works shot in the west – from Texas to Hollywood. With more cynical views of fame, class, and humanity, these works reflect a more complicated moment in the 20th-century American psyche, as well as the artist’s own shifting worldview from an extroverted documenter of pedestrian city life to an artist expressing more nuanced, withering views of alienation.
Garry Winorgrand, Los Angeles, ca. 1980-83. Courtesy San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
The show, as curated by photographer Leo Rubinfien along with Erin O’Toole, assistant curator of photography at SFMOMA and Sarah Greenough, curator from the National Gallery of Art, portrays an artist with a famously voracious eye and an expansive body of work, a fair amount never developed during his lifetime. One hundred prints culled from posthumously processed film are displayed amidst vintage Winogrands, a problematic strategy in regards to notions of authorship, but forgivable considering the artist’s noted preference for shooting over printing. That kind of creative wanderlust through the mid-century U.S. is vividly communicated in the various galleries, with pictures documenting touchstone moments--presidential campaigns, legendary boxing matches, political demonstrations, a World’s Fair -- in images filled with crowds and the confluent energy of culture in transition. Recurrent airport scenes function to express the excitement of movement, interaction, and modernist architecture. Vitrines containing personal effects—his nicely designed business card, a peevish letter from his spouse, a staged commercial shot for the sedative Librium—do much to round out the artist, as do some 8mm films that add a bracing touch of color to the otherwise monochromatic proceedings. But it is the later works that leave the most lasting impression—Winogrand’s view of California seems poignant if a bit critical. In Los Angeles, ca. 1980-83, a woman appears to be stranded and windblown on a financial district street, near traffic signs that speak only of prohibitions. Such works frame a narrative that reveals an increased sense of cultural isolation. Winogrand’s depiction of his country is as unique as his stamp upon the history of photography, which is vast and varied.
— By Glen Helfand 04/21/2013
Liliana Porter: 1973
Barbara Krakow Gallery, Boston
Liliana Porter, Untitled (Hands and Triangle). Courtesy Barbara Krakow Gallery
Geometry wins. The visual world is saturated with it, chiefly in rectangles and squares: buildings, doors, windows, television and computer and hand-held screens. From its invention, photography was rectangular (and sometimes square), no doubt to emulate the familiar form of paintings. During most of the photograph’s history the image stayed sedately within the frame, and photographers zeroing in on geometric subjects turned a modernist eye on modernist buildings or constructed still lifes out of bricks, bowls, dice and other handy geometric forms. A small show of Liliana Porter’s black-and-white photographs at Barbara Krakow Gallery through April 20 quietly and wittily makes hash of this tradition.
In three photographs of the artist’s hand, a line was drawn on finger or palm and refused to stop there but strode out audaciously over the mat and over the frame and would not stop even there but ventured onto the wall. In a picture of the palm, one point of a triangle frames the fourth and fifth fingers. These two fingers make an inverted triangle within the penciled one, and yet another pencil finishes the rest of the triangle on the gallery’s white wall.
Liliana Porter, Untitled (Line Horizontal). Courtesy Barabar Krakow Gallery
Lines that stay within the frame play their own clever tricks. Three hands are so arranged that a small triangle of shadow sits just between their overlap, and a triangle is drawn bumpily over the hands themselves to frame that little dark moment. In another picture, a man and a woman have put their heads side by side, face front. A rectangle is drawn around his right eye and her left eye, the two being right next to each other, thus outlining a third pair of eyes in a picture that one might suppose had two.
Geometries here are determinedly human rather than photographic, the pencil lines being a little woozy. In Self Portrait With Square, the “square” around one of Porter’s eyes and half of her nose aspires to be a rectangle that stretches beyond the face, but there it wilts downward as if too tired to stay on course.
These photographs, taken in 1973, have metamorphosed over the years and hold a hidden tale about time and photographers’ changing ideas. In the negatives the lines reached beyond the hands but only to the surface those hands were resting on. Porter never printed these images until last year, when she extended the lines to the edge of the photograph and subsequently instructed the gallery to draw the lines that break through the frame and travel over the gallery walls. Today any digital adept can break the frame, but few relate a photograph’s content so engagingly to the world just beyond it.
— By Vicki Goldberg 04/16/2013
In The Studio
Dillon DeWaters, Brooklyn
Antler, by Dillon DeWaters, among other works. Photo by Adam Ryder
I recently had the chance to visit the studio of photographer Dillon DeWaters in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, which occupies a segment of the Invisible Dog, an interdisciplinary art center that is one of the pillars of the neighborhood’s vibrant art community. His space, which he shares with his wife, Sarah Palmer (2011’s Aperture Portfolio prize-winner), hosts a collection of beguiling objects, from prisms to animals skulls as well as a large collection of his traditional and inkjet prints.
Adam Ryder, Dillon DeWaters in his studio
DeWaters is a native New Yorker and received his MFA in photography through ICP/Bard after studying the medium first at Arizona Stae University. Now director of photography for the studio of Vik Muniz, DeWaters, winner of the 2012 Tierney Fellowship, is a master of multiple processes, a skill he uses to great effect in his most recent work, As Things Decay They Bring Their Equivalents Into Being. In this most recent project DeWaters adopts the unearthly lighting and eerie subject matter of cult horror films to lend his photographs a sense of foreboding and mystery, creating images that defy a simple interpretation. Rather than utilizing a proscribed process to create these works, he allows each individual image in the series to inform the way photographs are themselves made. Images such as Sunrise (Soleil Levant), for instance, take advantage of the ethereal effects provided by fogged and expired film stock to shore up the haunting aesthetic that pervades his work. DeWaters shoots in locales such as Point Reyes, CA, and in his studio, incorporating a wide gamut of image-making techniques. The cinematic effects he achieves are the result of both in-camera and post-production processes, ranging from elaborate studio lighting to scanning his photographs as they are displayed on the screen of his iPhone. Although many of his images may seduce the viewer into wondering how they are constructed, DeWaters thinks of his own process as “often just a decoy, a red herring intending to both guide and mislead,” adding, “When process reveals itself in my images, I hope that is being seen as a resting place, a reflected ghost of the unknown, a place that gives pause to the viewer to actively project or contemplate, to establish order or find patterns.”
— By Adam Ryder 04/12/2013
AIPAD's Photography Show
Mike Brodie, #5060. Courtesy M+B Gallery
AIPAD’s Photography Show opened last night at the Park Avenue Armory, with more than 70 dealers showing work ranging from historical to contemporary. A quick sampling of some of my favorites gives an idea of the diversity of photographs on display in this always engaging event, on through Sunday.
Colorado dealer Joel Soroka is showing a vintage Edward Weston print, Fantastique, a nude from 1921. A platinum print, perched between Pictorialism and modernism, it has had only two previous owners.
On the opposite end of the historical spectrum is Mike Brodie at LA's M+B Gallery. Brodie’s work, from his series A Period of Juvenile Prosperity, is on view at M+B in through May 11 and at Yossi Milo in New York until April 6. Untrained as a photographer, Brodie spent several years train-hopping and hitchhiking around the country, and his photographs are loose and limber, freewheeling images of his friends and traveling companions. Some of them capture breathtakingly frightening moments on moving trains, others are quieter shots of his friends sleeping or peering at a map.
Alejandro Cartagena, Carpoolers. Courtesy Kopeikin Gallery
Carpoolers, by Alejandro Cartagena, on view at the Kopeikin Gallery’s booth, is a series of aerial views of construction workers in Mexico sleeping or resting in the backs of flatbed trucks. Cartagena perched on an overpass and pointed his camera down at the moving traffic, capturing men reading the paper, or sleeping wrapped in a Mickey Mouse towel, or huddling together for warmth at what looks to be the end of a hard day of work.
Jim Naughten, from Hereros. Courtesy Klompching Gallery
AIPAD newcomer Klompching Gallery, based in DUMBO, is showing a mix of gallery artists, but a standout is Ed Naughton, whose work is on view at the gallery through May 4. Naughton’s large-scale color portraits of the Herero people of Namibia emphasize the lush, vividly colorful clothing, adopted from the 19th-century German missionaries who settled there.
There’s much more, of course, including a schedule of panels on Saturday at Hunter College. See the website for a full schedule of events.
— By Jean Dykstra 04/04/2013
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Bruce Davidson, Untitled, from East 100th Street. Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Although the history of street photography is full of stolen glances, photographers who engage directly with their subjects require a well of trust. Bruce Davidson draws from both traditions, and Boston viewers enjoyed a treasure trove of his best work in three separate venues.
The Museum of Fine Arts is showing a recent acquisition of 43 vintage prints from the East 100th Street portfolio (1966-68). Close-up scrutiny is required for these dark silver prints, and the enforced intimacy makes it feel like we’ve been invited to informal gatherings all over the neighborhood. Groups of musicians gather around a kitchen table, young lovers quietly embrace on a bed, and the streets are a backdrop for a panoply of human emotions. A young boy flies a kite on a rooftop with miles of the urban landscape receding behind him. This rare moment of solitude in a busy city is broken by a couple walking on the darkened street below.
Bruce Davidson, Untitled, from Time of Change (Damn the Defiant). Courtesy Robert Klein Gallery
A two-fold exhibition of earlier works were on view concurrently at the Robert Klein Gallery and Ars Libris. Both offered a nostalgic reminder of the preening men and women that belonged to Brooklyn Gang (1959). By capturing private moments of quiet introspection Davidson provides us with a glimpse of the innocence and youth that resides underneath their posturing. Robert Klein Gallery went further with a selection of images documenting the Civil Rights movement across the south in the early 1960s. In one particularly riveting photograph, two identically dressed white policemen wearing helmets and bowties pull the arms of a young black woman in opposite directions; Damn the Defiant! is advertised on the movie marquee behind them. Recalling his experiences, Davidson said, I came away with a lot more than photographs.”
— By Edie Bresler 04/01/2013
at International Center of Photography, New YorkJR / Jose Parla, Wrinkles of the City, Havana Cuba
at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, New York
at Carroll And Sons, BostonJapan's Modern Divide: Photographs by Hiroshi Hamaya and Kansuke Yamamoto
at Getty Center, Los AngelesMichael Jang: The Jangs
at Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San FranciscoDavid Levinthal: War Games
at Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.Mike Brodie's Period of Juvenile ProsperitySpectator Sports
at Museum of Contemporary Photography, ChicagoJoshua Lutz: Hesitating Beauty
at ClampArt, New York
at Museum of Modern Art, New YorkIwan Baan: The Way We Live
at Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Los AngelesSuburbia
at Hagedorn Foundation Gallery, AtlantaJulie Weitz
at The Suburban, Oak ParkArmory Show 2013
at Armory Show, New YorkScope New York 2013
at SCOPE New York, New YorkADAA Art Show 2013
at ADAA Art Show, New YorkShooting Stars: Publicity Stills from Early Hollywood and Portraits by Andy Warhol
at Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
at G. Gibson Gallery, SeattleMiles Barth Joins ArtnetThe Unphotographable
at Fraenkel Gallery, San FranciscoKatrina del Mar: Girls Girls Girls
at Participant, Inc., New YorkRobin Rhode: Take Your Mind off the Street
at Lehmann Maupin (26th St), New YorkArne Svenson: The Neighbors
at Western Project, Culver City
at Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New YorkBeat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg
at Grey Art Gallery, New YorkKatherine Bussard Named Curator at
Princeton Art MuseumCatherine Wagner: trans/literate.
at Stephen Wirtz Gallery, San FranciscoKarl Baden: Roadside Attractions
at Howard Yezerski Gallery, BostonViviane Sassen on ViewJanuary is for Hot ShotsRichard Pare: The Lost Vanguard: Soviet Modernist Architecture, 1922–32
at Graham Foundation, Chicago
at Metropolitan Museum of Art, New YorkIdris Khan: New Photographs
at Fraenkel Gallery, San FranciscoJessica Eaton: Polytopes
at M+B Gallery, Los AngelesNadav Kander: Yangtze: The Long River
at Flowers Gallery, New YorkOri Gersht: History Repeating
at Museum Of Fine Arts, Boston, BostonAttachments
at The Hole, New York1979:1—2012:21: Jan Tichy Works with the MoCP Collection
at Museum of Contemporary Photography, ChicagoBonni Benrubi, 1953-2012