Exhibitions


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Untitled, 2014 © Judith StennekenGalerie 5, 6


The last visit I made to AIPAD - in 2008 - was the first and last time I attended. I left that first time and didn't make a photograph for four years. 

Upon hitting the Armory floor that year I quickly took note of the many Minor Whites, Aaron Siskinds, and Harry Callahans there were on the floors leaning up against the walls of booths. I risked picking up a framed Minor White in a booth in which I felt particularly invisible. No one seemed to notice the 22-year-old cretin picking up and waving around the framed image. "That's how it's gonna be huh?" I thought to myself. 

I came around a corner to a well-established contemporary photography booth; a gallery, which will remain nameless, with a featured image of an artist, who will also remain nameless. The print was bigger than me; I'm six foot four. Shot, framed, and lit with the utmost perfection. The subject of this photo is something one would find at a local zoo. What you can't find at your local zoo is the best photography equipment and the most expensive flashes money can buy, which the photographer clearly used to achieve the photograph. Needless to say the creature's photographic impression was something to behold, every inch an idealized image of absolute perfection. "How could anyone, who doesn't want to make images like this but does want to work in this field, compete with something like this object?" was my bone-crushing thought.

And that's how I left my feelings for photography. For four years.

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I didn't know then what I realize now. The Armory's AIPAD is as much an antiques road show as it is the Fine Art Photography world's Comic Con. It's a chance for photo galleries and institutions, and people, from all over the world to gather in New York City. There's some good quick sales to be made and, if you take the time, a few new friends to make as well. With the right intentions and a good pair of eyes, it's not totally impossible to yield some meaningful experiences with the people and large display of very concisely and purposefully curated photos. After all there are some exquisite images.

So this time I decided I wanted to turn the experience around on itself. I spent over seven hours every day this year at AIPAD. I'd like to point out that doing this doesn't make me special - just stupid, crazy, and driven enough. The heroes of AIPAD are the gallerists, assistants, and Armory staff who dedicate their time, energy, and maybe even souls to this convention. I tip my hat to them. 

Their passion inspired me to play some part, so I kept a stream of conscious diary during and after everyday.

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Jack Ruby Shoots Lee Harvey Oswald © Bob Jackson, Gary Edwards Gallery

Opening Night:
Opening night is like chasing around after some semblance of cordiality and imagery. It's more social than photographic but the evening is hugely photogenic. Name tags and introductions, stumbling over hors d'oeuvres. It's great to sift through the confusion and endless stream of booze.

"Where on earth do they put all those empty glasses?" I wondered on my way out.

Day 1:
Standardized words flush the halls of the Armory - words like fresh and contemporary. There are things in those silly haphazard bins with far too many zeros. Like the Robert Frank I found for $80,000 with only a simple matting and plastic sleeve for protection. 

"You're not going to forget me," someone brightly beams at a gallery owner, "my last name's Art." There are joyous little words of amusement muttered by many different patrons. When you catch one it's like finding a diamond. "You're a craftsman! And I mean that in the best way I can mean that!" Such passion. It's hard not to laugh out loud. 

Rest becomes a commodity on the well-placed benches. The tax is worth the spectacle of the company of strangers and friends alike.

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Vandalism Series, 1974 © John DivolaLee Gallery

Day 2:
By now things seem much more solid. You're even starting to memorize where things are. Close your eyes and you can remember exact locations of your favorite images even though your head does nothing but spin from the sheer volume. There's no more casual strolling and looking; you can actually see the photos on the walls. This is no longer a convention, it's an endurance trial.

Day 3:
[I've written one word here. It's the same word I've written for day four.]
Gossip. 

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Dings & Shadows, 2013 © Ellen CareyM+B

The whole thing becomes too much and I certainly have to admit it may be because of the degree of my visits, but not totally the fault of my obsession. AIPAD is a lot of work! As a casual goer it's great to stroll through and give the time it deserves. Talk to people - there's no reason not to - they're surprisingly friendly, intelligent, and engaging. (Many attendees are actual working professionals; make friends, but don't ask for favors!) Maybe all that is actually not so surprising. After all, we're all at AIPAD for the same reason; we really feel passionately towards photography. Given my first interaction with AIPAD and this recent experience, I've come to realize in many ways that this crazy experience is what you make of it. If you let it put you on your ass it will. It's much more rewarding to make it yours. For me, I gave myself over to it. I'm eager to get back behind my camera.

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Barak Obama, The White House, Washington D.C., 2010 © Mark SeligerSteven Kasher Gallery

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Place (Series) #125, 2009 © Bill Jacobson, Julie Saul Gallery

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Chongqing I, Chongqing Municipality, 2006 © Nadav KanderFlowers Gallery

Editor's note: AIPAD will relocate next year from the Park Avenue Armory to the Piers. 

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You've got to love a public installation! Emma Blau's Face Forward exhibition, on now in London, England, is an installation of supersize prints of locals with whom Emma collaborated to make these fabulous portraits.

"Face Forward is a public art exhibition created by award-winning photographic artist Emma Blau that utilises building site hoardings in the Church Street area of Westminster, which is currently undergoing regeneration. A resident herself, Blau's large-scale photographic portraits feature local people who will be affected by the huge transformations taking place in their neighbourhood. Face Forward is on display throughout 2016."


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The issue of gentrification is being addressed in photography quite extensively at the moment but Emma's project elevates the issue with its impressive installation. Not an easy challenge to host an exhibition in the streets - imagine the logistics!! Check out the installation photos.  

Emma will lead a tour of all three streets on April 27th, 2016. Head over to the official Facebook page for details.
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All images © Emma Blau / Face Forward

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Gohar Dashti, Untitled #5, from the series "Today's Life and War," 2008, Chromogenic print, 27 5/8 x 41 3/8 in.; 
Courtesy of the artist, Azita Bina, and Robert Klein Gallery, Boston; © Gohar Dashti

She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World opens at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, DC, on April 8, 2016, with an opening reception on the 7th, and runs through July 31, 2016.  The exhibition "challenges stereotypes surrounding the people, landscapes, and cultures of the region, and provides insight into political and social issues. The exhibition presents more than 80 photographs and a video installation. These provocative works - most created within the last decade - range in genre from portraiture, to documentary, to staged narratives." 

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Gohar Dashti, Untitled #1, from the series "Today's Life and War," 2008, Chromogenic print, 27 5/8 x 41 3/8 in.; 
Courtesy of the artist, Azita Bina, and Robert Klein Gallery, Boston; © Gohar Dashti

"The title of the exhibition is inspired by the Arabic word rawiya, which means "she who tells a story." It is also the name of a collective of women photographers based in the Middle East founded in 2009. Women worldwide have been pioneers in the mediums of photography and video since their inception. This exhibition demonstrates that the work of women photographers continues to resonate on a global scale."

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Rania Matar, Stephanie, Beirut, Lebanon, from the series "A Girl and Her Room," 2010; Pigment print, 36 x 50 in.; 
Courtesy of the artist and Carroll and Sons, Boston; © Rania Matar 

"Each artist in She Who Tells a Story offers a vision of the world she has witnessed. The photographers' images invite viewers to reconsider their own preconceptions about the nature of politics, family, and personal identity in the Middle East." 

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Rania Matar, Reem, Doha, Lebanon, from the series "A Girl and Her Room," 2010; Pigment print, 36 x 50 in.; 
Courtesy of the artist and Carroll and Sons, Boston; © Rania Matar 

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Newsha Tavakolian, Untitled, from the series "Listen," 2010; Pigment print, 39 3/8 x 47 1/4 in.; 
Courtesy of the artist and East Wing Contemporary Gallery

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Nermine Hammam, The Break, from the series "Cairo Year One: Upekkha," 2011; Chromogenic print, 23 5/8 x 23 5/8 in.; 
Courtesy of Taymour Grahne

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Shadi Ghadirian, Untitled, from the series "Qajar," 1998, Gelatin silver print, 15 3/4 x 11 7/8 in.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum purchase with the Horace W. Goldsmith Fund for Photography and Abbott Lawrence Fund, 2013.571;
© Shadi Ghadirian; Photo © 2015 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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Boushra Almutawakel, Untitled, from the series "The Hijab," 2001; 
Chromogenic print, 47 1/4 x 39 3/8 in.; Courtesy of the artist and the Howard Greenberg Gallery

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Lalla Essaydi, Bullets Revisited #3, 2012; Triptych, chromogenic prints on aluminum, 150 x 66 in.; 
Courtesy of the artist, Miller Yezerski Gallery, Boston, and Edwynn Houk Gallery, NYC

Our friends at the MFA Boston organized this exhibition in 2013, and Mrs. Karsh gave the introduction for Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan.

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Robert Mapplethorpe, American, 1946-1989
Identical self-portraits of Robert Mapplethorpe with trip cable in hand, 1974
Gelatin silver print. Sheet (each): 9.3 x 11.6 cm (3 11/16 x 4 9/16 in.)
Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Held at the Getty Research Institute, 2011.M.20.24
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

The first photography exhibition I ever saw was Robert Mapplethorpe, in London, and I have always said it ruined me for life. In my memory the exhibition was at the Festival Hall, but the web won't support this and insists it was the National Portrait Gallery, 'The Perfect Moment' retrospective, 1988/89. Regardless, I remember staring endlessly at one of his highly sexual portraits and listening to the outrage of the person viewing next to me. I felt happy. 

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Robert Mapplethorpe
Ajitto, 1981
Gelatin silver print. Image: 45.4 x 35.5 cm (17 7/8 x 14 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation, 2011.7.13
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

That Mapplethorpe-related happiness has carried me through my journey in the world of photography so I was beyond thrilled when a review copy of Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs (J. Paul Getty Museum, March 2016) arrived. What a book! 

Mapplethorpe's most recognizable and less-known images, both the graphic and the gorgeous, are drawn from the J. Paul Getty Museum's own collection, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, and Mapplethorpe Archive housed at the Getty Research Institute. 

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Robert Mapplethorpe
Grapes, 1985
Gelatin silver print. Image: 38.5 x 38 cm (15 3/16 x 14 15/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation, 2011.7.20
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

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Robert Mapplethorpe
Thomas, 1987
Gelatin silver print. Image: 48.8 x 48.8 cm (19 3/16 x 19 3/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation, 2011.7.31
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

"This publication is issued on the occasion of the exhibition Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium on view at both the  J. Paul Getty Museum and at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from March 15 and March 20, respectively, through July 31, 2016; at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montreal from September 10, 2016, through January 15, 2017; and at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, from October 28, 2017, through February 4, 2018."

Let it be known that the young me spent not inconsiderable time wondering if she could scrape together the £1,500 that a print was going for back then. They say one only regrets the things one did not do... But then, how would I have chosen?

Get your copy of Robert Mapplethorpe: The Photographs for under $60. Money well spent for a lifetime of Mapplethorpe mastery.

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Robert Mapplethorpe
Calla Lily, 1988
Gelatin silver print. Image: 49 x 49 cm (19 5/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation, 2011.9.26
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

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Robert Mapplethorpe
Derrick Cross, 1983
Gelatin silver print. Image: 48.5 x 38.2 cm (19 1/8 x 15 1/16 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, L.2012.88.910
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

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Robert Mapplethorpe
Flower Arrangement, 1986 
Gelatin silver print. Image: 49 x 49 cm (19 5/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, L.2012.89.566
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

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Robert Mapplethorpe
Self-Portrait, 1980
Gelatin silver print. Image: 35.6 x 35.6 cm (14 x 14 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; partial gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation; partial purchase with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation, 2011.9.21
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

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Robert Mapplethorpe
Self-Portrait, 1985
Gelatin silver print. Image: 38.7 x 38.6 cm (15 1/4 x 15 3/16 in.)
Jointly acquired by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with funds provided by the J. Paul Getty Trust and the David Geffen Foundation, 2011.7.21
© Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

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Chris Killip
From the series In Flagrante Two
Two girls, Grangetown, Middlesbrough, Teeside, 1975
Gelatin Silver Print
© Chris Killip, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

Last month, I was talking to a photographer I admire enormously and he told me had just seen one the best photographs of his life, at Yossi Milo here in NYC. It turned out to be the above 'Two Girls' by Chris Killip, whose photos I have much admired after embarrassingly only discovering him rather late in life. The exhibition was ending the following day so I bunked off work for the afternoon and headed to Chelsea.

Yossi Milo Gallery's presentation of fifty gelatin silver prints from the photographs that constituted his book 'In Flagrante' (Secker & Warburg, 1988) hand-printed by Killip, is the first time since 1988 that the series has been exhibited in its entirety and the first time ever in the United States. The images are culturally familiar and endearing to me and it was interesting to talk to some of the American viewers about the miners' strike and the Queen's silver jubilee street parties I remember so well. 

The unassuming photographer has been working at Harvard as professor of visual and environmental studies for many years and apparently will soon retire and cease printing his negatives. So if you're thinking about purchasing a print, now is the time to do it. 

Yossi Milo is pleased to announce that the J. Paul Getty Museum now owns a set of all 50 of Killip's prints and will mount an exhibition in the coming months. The book, In Flagrante Two, is out now from Steidl.

View the full screen aCurator magazine photo feature.

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Puerto Rican Day Parade © Arlene Gottfried, courtesy Daniel Cooney Fine Art

"It takes a lifetime to be a new discovery, I guess." So said Ms Arlene Gottfried this week (speaking to David Schonauer over at AI-AP) in the run-up to her second solo show, 'Bacalaitos & Fireworks', at Daniel Cooney Fine Art, in Chelsea, New York, which opened March 3, 2016 and runs till April 16th. 

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The show at Cooney features images originally collected in Arlene's 2011 book Bacalaitos & Fireworks, printed from her rich, orangey Cibachromes.

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From the press release "Growing up, Gottfried was fascinated with the culture around her, learning to Salsa dance and to love the music, food and language. As an adult living in Manhattan she embraced the Puerto Rican community and they embraced her, sharing their lives with her and her camera. Gottfried says, "From my window on the Lower East Side I could look out and see the Puerto Rican culture I encountered over 30 years earlier. "One night I heard a street vendor on the corner of Avenue C and East 3rd Street calling, "bacalaitos and fireworks", bacalaitos, a fried cod fish indigenous to Puerto Rico and fireworks, for the Fourth of July weekend. This juxtaposition became etched in my mind - representative of an immigrant population on the streets of America."

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These are but a small sample of the colour prints on show. Run don't walk! 

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All images © Arlene Gottfried courtesy Daniel Cooney Fine Art

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Grace © Toto Cullen

"'Beauty Undefined" explores the concept of womanhood and societal ideologies regarding beauty. This exhibition curated by Monica Watkins and Magda Love, of Beauty for Freedom, features the works of 20 international artists. Images of female beauty vary greatly across cultures and time as does what qualifies as "beautiful" among everyday women. Beauty Undefined develops a stronger definition of beauty of the female form by introducing issues of culture and identity through the mediums of photography, illustrations, video installations, graffiti art, fine art and sculpture. 

"'Beauty for Freedom' is an innovative, sustainable platform providing the industries of beauty and fashion with a means to raise awareness, accountability, and financial contributions for charitable foundations and non-profits who fight human trafficking globally. Spring 2016, Beauty for Freedom will be producing a series of art, music, photography and writing workshops in SE Asia (Project India) meant to promote self-esteem and self-expression for survivors of sex-trafficking.

The exhibition is on view March 2nd & 3rd, 2016, at 51 Orchard Street NY, NY with an opening reception March 2nd, 7-11pm.

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Confection © Alison Brady

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The White Dress © Tim Okamura


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© John Arsenault, "Silhouette of a Leatherman," 2012, Archival pigment print, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

Images by John Arsenault courtesy of ClampArt gallery. Words by Efrem Zelony-Mindell.

If you've ever taken a trip through New England, Cape Cod or Provincetown, it goes with out saying you know something about the quality of light out there. Those tender revealing hues of light, and the color blue like nothing else you've ever seen; everything's rich. That light and those blues, touch every inch of you - every inch of everything. You can't be out there and not think about Edward Hopper's paintings. John Arsenault's work is a lot like them, if Edward Hopper had a hidden closest full of good shoes, leather, and a cache of kinky friends. Similarly to Hopper, Arsenault has that sense of light and surrealism. His subjects don't simply pose, they penetrate their frames. What on earth could they possibly be thinking about?

What's on anyone's mind at the Eagle in LA?

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© John Arsenault, "Exit (Self Portrait)," 2012

Arsenault spent the better part of two years as "barmaid," as he lovingly refers to it, at the Eagle in LA. "A very unexpected chance." He tells me. Lucky for us he had his smartphone camera during his time there from 2012 to 2013. The man has made smartphone cameras an art. On a personal note, I couldn't thank him enough for that. It's hard to believe, but no denying, the man can take the piss out of a photograph. Touching light bleeds in the darkness of the bar. Casting hues and dimension over bodies and surfaces. Piercing the point of vision. These photographs are as rich as they are intimate. The bar is transformed, more Matisse in color and treatment than one would expect for a watering-hole suck-shack like the Eagle. For anyone who is familiar with the Eagle, LA's or otherwise, they may find the beginning of that metaphor an alarmingly unlikely possibility. It comes highly suggested that the photos be seen - by way of Arsenault's show Barmaid at ClampArt gallery, in New York - or by grabbing a copy of his new monograph, of the same title, published by Daylight. The proof's in the seeing of Arsenault's work.

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© John Arsenault, "Parachutes (Self Portrait)," 2012    

"It's so important to me to be open to the gray areas of my life. At first I didn't see photographing the Eagle as a project unto itself. I fell into bar backing totally by chance. As I got to know the people there I felt a commitment to them, myself, and this story." Arsenault's work has always been very rooted in the self and the work is diaristic. It's interesting to note both the love and care in the photo's, and the way Arsenault talks about them, and his experience. He's always sought out this intimacy, with people, with place, with light. Oh, that light. You don't need him to tell you his influence, the painterliness, and gesture are clear. He has taken an otherwise cacophonous escapade and quieted it down. Arsenault is a keeper of moments and tensions before, or maybe just after something wonderful, something sexual, something depraved or totally unforgettable. The environment becomes isolated and calmness sets in. But in the dark of the bar there is never a complete assurance of that controlled moment. 

LA's Eagle provided Arsenault with an opportunity to be a little out of place, maybe very out of place. "At first I would come to work with this ideal of what I should be or look like. And I realized I didn't need to pretend, it's more important to hold onto myself." It's pretty easy to get sucked into the atmosphere of a place, you walk different, you move different, and sometimes you are able to forget everything just to fit in. People showing up and being who they are and not some list of ideals is Arsenault's strongest message. It's good to keep that in mind. The Eagle is full of vice, and it's the individual people, the dark corners, and intimate moments that make it what it is.

John Arsenault's show in on view at ClampArt Gallery till February 13th. His new book Barmaids is available now 

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© John Arsenault, "Sister Candy Cide," 2013

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© John Arsenault, "Turned Off," 2012

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© John Arsenault, "Exterior Landscape Number Two," 2012

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© John Arsenault, "Exterior Landscape Number One," 2013

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© John Arsenault, "Praying for Tomorrow," 2012

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© John Arsenault, "Rose in a Bottle," 2013, 
All images Archival pigment prints, Courtesy of ClampArt, New York City

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Images by Pacifico Silano. Article by Efrem Zelony-Mindell.

Pacifico Silano is a BAXTER ST 2015 Workspace Resident. His new body of work, Tear Sheets - currently on view at BAXTER ST Camera Club of New York - pushes conversations that, as he puts it, "are my history." The images in his new body of work deal with issues of gender, identity, HIV/AIDS awareness, abstraction and photography. Silano is a photographer of photographs; a historian in many senses, and his work challenges the stigma of both the camera and HIV/AIDS. The images in the show are cultivated appropriations of historic queer ephemera, psychiatric literature like Martin S. Weinberg's 'The Male Homosexuals: Their Problems and Adaptations,' as well as various porno mags from the 70's - 80's. Magazines are favorites of Silano: Blueboy, Torso and Honcho These weren't just the cum rag, boy blasted, flip throughs of their day, they were also a platform of activism, nightlife, awareness, and gay rights. Historically these things were used as a way of illuminating secrets. The images in Tear Sheets add to a new context of queered identity - what it is and what it is capable of becoming.

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The world has changed for gays since the AIDS crisis - the death of many. Today, there are new developments in medicine, technologies, and there are new rights - HOORAH. Never before has this powerful interconnectedness been so accessible and so present; so able to bring together as well as divide. The advances of our times are exciting and contradictory. Silano's work is a reflection of these juxtapositions. The world spins forward, and we look back in commemoration - to learn and reflect, to see new. From this inquest of space and history there is discovery and invention. Here the parts come together - for Silano. The images he makes are inescapably contemporary for all their awareness and sensibility. 

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The wrecked savagery of sex and print are salvaged by the treatment of Silano's compositions. "The work comes from boxes of scraps that for a while I couldn't think of what to do with," he shares. The removal in the work happens as an affect of his excavating his archive. The work plays out before us. His appropriations become void and lucid, highly suggestive and pensive. 

At their most basic, the photos are abstract. They posses a quality of recognition and a hunger to delve deeper - to learn more. His images are at times figurative, always sculptural - becoming almost architectural. Depth and space are a tricky deception in a photograph. Silano plays off these sensibilities and discomforts. His iconography is one of a picture's generation - an aesthetic of elimination, down to a single idea. This suggests a sense of the sublime in nature.

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Silano is as much a historian as he is an archivist. When I offered him a friend's VHS porn collection a few years back, he jumped at the offer. He's a collector of things, moving, still, tactile and articulated. These parts fuse in his practice - and the images are just as much photographs as they are collage. Cutting and tearing appropriated images - placed precisely - there is gesture, and the hand is always present in front of his camera. It's interesting however to note the use of negative space, huge fields of white, sometimes black. The edges of the appropriated image, or object, casts a shadow on the voided space. Suddenly, the photos teeter in a questioning way. Depth and object are brought into the flat surface of the photo. There is a sense of forgetting, of something lost. But then, he builds on top, next to, tucked behind - overlapping so as to become something new, or at least, changing the meaning of where it began. Reinterpretation blossoms from Silano's metamorphoses. 

All these pretty words for such pretty things - the facts are the facts - the work is engaging for a multitude of reasons.

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Douglas Eklund, Exhibition Curator of the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, has put it best in regard to The Pictures Generation and how they, "worked at the intersection of personal and collective memory, rummaging through the throwaway products of their youth... in search of moments that both never existed yet were indelibly stamped in the mind." The scavenging of Silano's photography is addressing this history of indelible making. Some of these are before his time, but there's always a yearning to know what happened just before you got here. The work in Tear Sheets is a way of capturing and reanimating something that's been lost. 

I'll give you an example: Six of the seven original members of The Village People are still around. It's a desire like that, to find out, to know that something isn't gone, and now is full of potential in its anonymity. Anyone can search for a sense of culture that seemed important at a certain time, but now is so vague, it's almost antique. Capturing that hazy memory - remembering it - and allowing it to become what it wasn't before, is Pacifico Silano's most powerful asset as an artist.

The work is great and it's on view at BAXTER ST CCNY till January 16th. - Efrem Zelony-Mindell

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All images: Pacifico Silano

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Sugar Rush © Frances F. Denny

Article by Efrem Zelony-Mindell

Photographer Frances F. Denny wants you to know you can be an imperfect feminist. That's an OK thing to be. Ideals of 1920's feminism and femininity have changed. Denny's first solo show, currently at ClampArt in New York City, contemplates and questions ideals of being a woman. As one who grew up in the nineties, she may be the first to admit it was a rather glorious age of shiny stickers, glittery goo, pearly nail polish, balloons, and bright colors. Clouds, stars, ponies and the like! These things became cornerstone caricatures of girlhood. To a large extent, they still are. It seems poignant to point out that as a kid growing up in the nineties, identity seemed pretty amorphous for a good while there. There were odd edges around what cool was and I'm not sure we wanted it to be a specific thing. We grew up on a much different Nickelodeon, with an almost unrecognizable Britney Spears. We were cool with being totally quirky, maybe even okay with being completely poor. We weren't perfect, but we loved our bright colors and tons of sugar! And let's be honest, nineties kids were a little twisted. There was something in the air back then. Denny has put a good amount of this nurture into her photographs and exhibition, Pink Crush.

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Wicked Game

"How are we taught to be women? How are we taught to be feminine?" Denny is committed to a deep exploration of development; she's insightfully curious about experimenting. The work in Pink Crush explores the aesthetics of a woman who grows through a filter of pop culture and commercialism. Pinky and shimmery objects always seem to be the safe default to celebrate a woman's anything. Her works aren't a rebellion against this, but there is a desire to study and survey. The shape of the contemporary woman has become a strangely commodified landscape. 

"The work burst from my head, like the birth of Athena." She is matter-of-fact. "Books and stories are far more generative to me and the work I make." Denny has not trapped herself in a rebellion of gender or a crisis of identity. She is practically a scientist; she studies so as to further the language and form of what it means to be woman. Her results are the wonderfully cultivated photographs of Pink Crush.

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Butterfly Dream

Denny's work has sympathy with the intimate, ornate and inescapably recognizable. There is a deeply personal quality in the photographs; her subjects and objects become more figurative and less specific in identity. The ambiguity cultivates a universal sense of anyone and everyone. The photographs may make you feel uncomfortable at times in their obscurity, but it's that uncertainty that makes them so wonderful. The pictures are a way to grasp a sense of woman through iconography, but they nurture a virtue to which anyone can relate. The images are highly saturated appearing unnatural - even plastic - yet they have a familiarity and a common motif of mending. The compositions, in their duality, stimulate a wonderfully confusing sense of engagement, a desire. You can almost taste the photos - some are sweet, others are explosive and sour.

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Pink Lemonade

Beyond the work, "which at times I wanted to feel a bit like a regurgitation of the girly aisle in a party store," Pink Crush is being displayed in tandem with a show of work that is from her first printed book published by Radius Books, "Let Virtue Be Your Guide." Denny shares how lucky she feels to have a role in photography. "I am so grateful to Brian [Clamp of ClampArt] and David [Chickey, of Radius Books] for letting me have the chance to make and show work that is about women being women." Denny and her work never for a moment lose sight of the gratitude it takes to achieve equality. Equality is nothing if we aren't people first. The parts that make us who we are help us become more whole. Pink Crush does that. It embraces the stuffness of being woman. The photos make it possible to understand the self. They aren't for a moment ashamed of their identity. The colors, the kooky shapes, the dirty leftovers, the uneven edges and all that stuff in-between, make a woman. She is a whole person.  

Frances Denny's exhibitions have been extended - go see Pink Crush plus Let Virtue be Your Guide at ClampArt, Chelsea, NYC, through December 30th.

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Sheer Romance

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Birthday Bash

All images © Frances F. Denny

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