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
Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Bill Brandt, Baie des Anges, France, 1959
Bill Brandt embraced ambiguity, in his life and in his art, and the thoughtful, well-organized exhibition on view at The Museum of Modern Art through August 12 emphasizes his refusal to be pinned down to a particular style or subject. The German native who became known as the quintessential British photographer was also a documentarian who evolved into a surrealist.
Brandt made his name with his extensive, almost ethnographic study of English society, The English at Home, in 1936. Though he adopted England and encouraged the misperception that he was a native, the fact that he wasn’t may have positioned him to photograph the class stratifications of British society with such equanimity. His gaze was the same whether it was focused on a fishmonger at Billingsgate Market or the upper classes at their leisure, playing golf or watching cricket. Brandt had family connections that allowed him access to some of London’s affluent families, and he regularly photographed his uncle’s maid, Pratt. Parlourmaid and Under-Parlourmaid Ready to Serve Dinner emphasizes the crisp white uniforms, but also the women wearing the uniforms, pulling them forward from the background into the foreground and focus of his pictures.
Bill Brandt, Billingsgate Porter, ca. 1934
The coal towns of northern England seem tailor-made for Brandt, drawn as he was to greys and blacks in his brooding early prints. In the late 1930s he traveled to places like Halifax and Jarrow, and you can feel the soot in your lungs in Halifax, in which a dark cloud of smoke wafts over the street. But there are also hints of the disorienting perspectives that would predominate in his later work: In A Snicket in Halifax, 1937, a wet, cobblestone lane looms up dizzyingly and seems to end in mid-air. And his photograph of three eggs in a gull's nest on the Isle of Sky, 1947, has a surreal quality that may be the result of the time Brandt spent as an informal apprentice to Man Ray in Paris before moving to London in 1934.
Man Ray’s nudes certainly influenced Brandt, who eventually turned his attention to the subject. These strange and unpredictable images may be the work for which he is best known, and as curator Sarah Meister points out in the catalogue for the show, they are made even more compelling by their elusiveness. They are sometimes so distorted that it’s difficult to make out a body part, and that part might just as easily be a foot or an ear as a breast, the setting as often a bed as a rocky beach.
Just as he experimented with distortion and framing, Brandt continually experimented with printing (even going back and making high contrast prints of earlier shadow images). Three versions of London (1953, 1969, and 1970s), a geometric composition showing a woman’s oval face through the crook of her arm, her breast in the lower corner, are on view in the show. He printed the image in increasingly brighter whites and deeper darks, sharper and higher in contrast, resulting in subtle changes to the tone and mood of the picture. Brandt wrote that the photographer’s job was to enable “men and women to see the world anew” as something “fresh and strange.” It’s clear from this exhibition that he, for one, never stopped seeing the world that way.
— By Jean Dykstra 03/26/2013
Iwan Baan: The Way We Live
Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Los Angeles
Iwan Baan, The City and the Storm. Courtesy Perry Rubenstein Gallery
As a young writer with Marxist leanings, Mary McCarthy used to ask of each play she reviewed in 1940s New York, “What is this going to be used for?” Would it be used to promote, or bash, some version of the America dream? Would it be used to sway audiences politically? Would it revise history in some way or another? Years later, McCarthy reflected that this “was not the right question to put to a work of art,” but it could nevertheless “yield revealing answers.”
Walking through Iwan Baan’s The Way We Live at Perry Rubenstein Gallery through April 13—a show of photographs of skylines and architectural feats from around the world—you might ask a variation of McCarthy’s question: not what will it be used for, but what have these been used for? Probably, you will have seen some of them before. Baan, often described as an “architecture photographer” though it’s unlikely he chose that strict descriptor for himself, publishes his images in magazines and journals, as well as the photo books he has compiled. For the most part, his images have a pared-down, minimal feel, even if his subject is a skyline. They often have washes of blue running across them somewhere, like the hazy bluish sky over the city in his photo of Dubai or the bluish walls surrounding the glass floor in his image of Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto’s House H. This photograph appeared in the design magazine Domus in 2009.
Iwan Baan, Torre David #5. Courtesy Perry Rubenstein Gallery
Baan’s photograph The City and the Storm, an aerial view of nighttime New York after Hurricane Sandy hit, appeared initially on the cover of New York Magazine in October 2012. It shows normally bright lower Manhattan as a dark hole and, printed in large format, it has some graininess in it that makes it seem the storm is hovering over its surface. His photograph of a man, shirtless, seen from belly-button up, lifting weights made of train wheels on the roof of an unfinished high-rise, has the browns, greens and burnt oranges of Caracas’s cityscape in the background. This appeared in New York Magazine in October 2011. The article it accompanied described the unfinished high-rise, nicknamed Torre David (after the tower’s investor, who died right before the banking crisis of ’94 and right before the government took possession of the building), and the community of squatters that have moved into it since 2007, as “a modern ruin buzzing with life, a postapocalyptic mockery of an oil-rich nation’s aspirations.” Baan’s images show that collision of modernistic aspiration and low-tech, poor-man’s resourcefulness better than the words do, however. While the article criticizes the Venezuelan government for not improving safety or stepping in, Baan’s photographs issue no call for redress. Rather, they have an edge of idealistic excitement regarding this bottom-up model of living. These are the best moments in The Way We Live, the ones that show the slippage between the images themselves and their initial uses.
— By Catherine Wagley 03/21/2013
Hagedorn Foundation Gallery, Atlanta
Sarah Malakoff, courtesy Hagedorn Foundation Gallery
The split between sprawl and city remains a powerful dividing line panned for curatorial gold again and again in galleries and museums aware of the instant associations summoned up with that loaded and powerful term “suburbia.” Atlanta’s Hagedorn Gallery enters into the fray with its own treatise on the world’s oft-vilified planned communities, Suburbia (on view through March 16).
Viewers know, to some extent, exactly what they will see when they amble into a group show titled Suburbia. And this show doesn’t fail to deliver on that unspoken promise. There are Martin Adolfsson’s shots of generic suburban living rooms and bedrooms in planned communities from Moscow to Brazil to South Africa. With their shockingly uniform arrangements of pillows, nightstands and bedroom art or the ubiquitous presence of a television dead center in these suburban living rooms, the expected touchstones of uniformity, sterility and complacent wealth are all present. Just as primitive humans could parse subtle variations in the natural world, modern humans have an equally advanced understanding of the differences between Walmarts and Targets, Costcos and Sam’s Clubs. Jonathan Lewis’s clever pixilated color images of the groaning shelves, colorfully arranged products and fluorescent-lit aisles of big box stores are a familiar visual architecture to residents of the 21st century. Though the consumer experience isn’t unique to suburbia, the assumption of shows such as this one is that the two are inextricable.
Martin Adolfsson, courtesy Hagedorn Foundation Gallery
The downstairs gallery at Hagedorn is given over to Sarah Malakoff’s variation on Adolfsson’s theme of depopulated suburban interiors, albeit with a twist. In Malakoff’s images suburbia is far from uniform: the quirky wallpapers, paint colors and design features of her home interiors seem to convey something of the idiosyncratic nature of their unseen occupants, who may or may not be residents of the suburbia in question. Atlanta photographer Christina Price Washington offers the most unexpected studies of suburbia in the show, although also the most oblique. Her extreme close-ups of the fissured bark of a tree seen from multiple vantages Four Sides of the Tree, individual blades of grass in a suburban lawn or the play of light and shadow through a window suggest uniqueness and individuality in the domestic realm even where other photographers have seen lockstep conformity.
Perhaps the most arresting images in Suburbia, are Brian Ulrich’s rephotographed black-and-white images from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. These reconceptualized vintage photographs of grocery and department stores capture an era when suburbia was more a promise and a hoped-for state rather than the compromised cop-out contemporary viewers assume it to be. Ulrich has often charted big box architecture and consumer culture in his work and in these historic images he essentially records wildfire consumption’s baby steps.
The photographers don’t necessarily cohere as a group, nor do they, en masse, bring some new understanding of suburbia to the fore, though individually they offer moments of enlightenment beyond the constrictive parameters of this themed show.
— By Felicia Feaster 03/14/2013
The Suburban, Oak Park
Julie Weitz, Yr Body is My Geometry. Courtesy The Suburban
Self-awareness is the like-minded end goal of both yoga and art making. Julie Weitz’s new series of drawing on photographs, exhibited at The Suburban (through March 31, 2013), aligns the two practices into a sensually stimulating whole. Weitz draws with gouache, graphite, ink, and yellow-colored tape on photographs of yogis performing poses, and sometimes inserts triangle- and square-shaped mirrors, thereby fracturing their bodies into geometric abstractions. Like Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man, the reshaped bodies reach toward an ideal self in line with nature, expressed by the precision and truth of geometric forms.
Change comes slowly through the creative ritual of art making and the labor of yoga, especially if both are performed daily. Discipline in any action brings a focused, even heightened, awareness. Weitz smartly conflates yoga and art, so that each is a metaphor for the other. Yogis speak of living artfully whereby each action is intentional. Clear intentionality is also one of the highest expressions of being a creative person, even if, in the process of making, one is still seeking.
Julie Weitz, Downward Decap. Courtesy The Suburban
In a video work, Yr Body Is My Geometry, Weitz traces connective lines on a mirror that reflects a yogi in position. Weitz then paints a black diamond shape over his reflected body, masking portions of the face and torso. In yoga, awareness is brought to the intimate hollows of the body, as if there were empty spaces in the chest and abdomen that could be filled with consciousness. For Weitz, too, the interiors of her geometric drawings are important to the whole, for it is the interior that structures an entire shape. Manipulating these shapes like poses allows Weitz, as an artist and a yogi, to delve with confidence into the unknown. Yogis and artists successfully transform themselves, and in turn their (and our) world, with their sense perception. The yogi in Weitz’s pictures who is folded over, looking between his own legs, is symbolically inverted, turned inward, toward himself. To this Weitz adds a perplexing third concept, that of monsters (through her titles) and a bloody beheading, in the photo-collage Downward Decap. Though unexpected and strange, these too signify a desire to fully access the body’s mysterious interior, and to merge the external world with the artist’s insight.
— By Jason Foumberg 03/12/2013
Armory Show 2013
Armory Show, New York
Edward Burtynsky at Howard Greenberg Gallery
Among the photo-based highlights at the Armory Show are a number of artists making cut-paper photo-based work that is sculptural as it is photographic. South Korean-born, LA-based artist Soo Kim is showing hand-cut inkjet prints at Angles Gallery, delicate, intricate multilayered pieces that play with the ideas of absence and presence and contrast the instantaneousness of photography with the slow process of cutting and layering the paper. Her cityscapes and multi-dimensional images of trees are worth the trip.
A more conceptual approach to photographic paper-cutting can be found at Max Wigram Gallery, where Jose Davila’s series A Brief History of Sculpture fills the outer wall of the booth. Davila took color photographs – akin to tourist snapshots – of such sculptures as Lousie Borgeous’s spider or Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty and then carefully cut out the sculptures, leaving only the surrounding area. With touch of smart humor, the Mexican artist explores public space and empty space.
Soo Kim at Angles Gallery
And at Yossi Milo’s booth, in addition to an enormous (94 x 80 inch) C-print of giraffes by Simen Johan from his series “Until the Kingdom Comes,” there are three small, modest pieces by Julie Cockburn. She took found portraits and embroidered a photo that looks like the school photo of a young boy. For the other two, she cut the print into a layered flower shape where the face should be.
There are, of course, more straightforward photographs on view at the Armory as well: Yancey Richardson is showing a stunning Olivo Barbieri from The Dolomites series, a breathtaking view of tiny skiers on a vast snowscape that is a rare example of the sublime in contemporary art. Also at Richardson, five black and white August Sander-liked portraits by South African photographer Zaneli Muholi of lesbian and transgender subjects. And Howard Greenberg Gallery is showing a glowing Edward Burtynski diptych, Nickel Tails, #34 and #35, Sudbury, Ontario, and a wall of classic black and white work by such masters as Robert Frank, William Klein, Bruce Davidson, and the recently discovered Vivian Maier.
— By Jean Dykstra 03/08/2013
Scope New York 2013
SCOPE New York, New York
Michael Mapes at Aureus Contemporary
Before you enter Scope New York you may, if you wish, converse with Walt Whitman, who is sitting in a small room inside a wood packing crate. Affixed to the crate are several small fish-eye lenses, which you can peer into and see Walt speaking to you via an old-fashioned phone. This encounter sets the tone for the Scope fair: whimsical, sometimes puzzling, often tremendously engaging.
Inside are 75 international galleries, representing emerging and mid-career artists, many with an experimental approach to their medium. This is a fair with more photo-based work than straight photography, or work that mixes media, like the sculptural photo-based pieces on view at Aureus Contemporary by Michael Mapes. The artist “dissects,” as he puts it, a photograph into tiny pieces, then uses insect pins to reassemble those fragments and attach them to a background, creating multi-layered portrait that also incorporates the subject’s DNA and hair samples, among other things.
Diana Thorneycroft at Art Mur
Montreal’s Art Mur showed the playful work of Diana Thorneycroft, reminiscent of the foreboding snow globe photographs of Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz. Thorneycroft’s series Group of Seven Awkward Moments explores Canadian identity with black humor and rich irony. She incorporates as backdrops to her dioramas famous paintings by the Canadian collective of painters, the Group of Seven, and her snowy tableaus are populated by figurines playing hockey or hunting or camping. Inevitably, though, one of them has fallen through the ice or lies bleeding in the snow. They’re dark but playful investigations of national identity.
Dulce Pinzon at Alida Anderson Art Projects
And speaking of national identity, Dulce Pinzon asks us to reconsider the lives of Mexican immigrants to this county in her photographic series Superheroes. Alida Anderson Art Projects showed photographs of immigrants who work low-level jobs to send money home to their families. She photographs them doing their jobs – window washer, nanny, delivery person, cook – dressed like Spiderman, Superman, the Hulk, or Wonder Woman. She includes in the caption her subject’s name, where they’re from, and how much money they send home every week in these portraits of truly unsung heroes.
— By Jean Dykstra 03/07/2013
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