Sara Vanderbeek, “The Principle of Superimposition 2,” digital C-print, 2008.
Unless my instincts are way off, phot(o)bjects will undoubtedly be the most important photography show to hit the Northwest this summer (if not this entire year). On view at Lawrimore Project in Seattle through August 1, phot(o)bjects includes some of the most critical and forward-thinking voices in contemporary photography, including Walead Beshty, Trisha Donnelly, Roe Ethridge, Guyton/Walker, and Sara VanDerBeek, in addition to videos by Wolfgang Tillmans and Torbjørn Rødland. Organized by indie curator guru Bob Nickas for Presentation House Gallery in Vancouver, the work in the show appears to be largely sculptural, offered in response to Nickas’ query, “Beyond a carrier of an uninterrupted image, what else can a photograph be?”
I’m heading up to see the show later this week, and hope to secure a forum for a proper review of this important show. I will have a brief report of the show here in upcoming weeks, along with a few thoughts on the Gursky retrospective and Anthony Hernandez shows from earlier this month in Vancouver.
phot(o)bjects at Lawrimore Project, 831 Airport Way S., Seattle, through Aug 1
Amy Stein, “Riverside,” from the series Domesticated, digital C print
Most readers of this blog are surely familiar with Amy Stein’s fantastic photographic tableaux, and those who live in Portland have hopefully caught her current show at Blue Sky Gallery. I’m working on a proper review for the Oregonian, but thought I should break to spread the word about her upcoming artist talk on Saturday, Aug 1. In addition to the lecture, Stein will also be signing copies of Domesticated, which was published here in Portland via Photolucida’s Critical Mass. (Only three days left to apply for your own Critical Mass monograph!)
I saw a version of the Domesticated show in San Francisco last year, and despite the Blue Sky exhibition being unframed, the current incarnation is a stronger showing. I have no doubt that Stein’s talk will be equally smart and engaging.
Domesticated at Blue Sky Gallery, 122 NW 8th Ave, through Aug 2. Amy Stein artist talk Saturday, Aug 1, at 3 pm. Free.
Laurie Simmons, “Big Camera, Small Camera,” silver gelatin print, 1977
This was indeed a pivotal moment for art. Pictures Generation features women who entered the art world at levels equal in importance to their male counterparts for the first time. Often, they surpassed men in terms of invention and impact. Most of the women—Kruger, Levine, Lawler, Sherman, Charlesworth, Bloom and Laurie Simmons—worked with photographic imagery, partly because photography was still regarded as a bastard child of art. This was a field they could have pretty much to themselves, while gaining the support, rather than the envy, of the bad-boy painters around them.
“I turned to photography because I thought it was the dominant language of our culture,” says Charlesworth, who is represented in the show by photographs from her first two series of newspaper appropriation works, “Modern History” (1978) and “Stills” (1977). “I remember seeing Richard Prince’s first show at Anina Nosei and thinking, ‘Oh! This guy is interested in the same stuff I am,’” Charlesworth recalls. “Photography suited the things we wanted to address.”
Prince, the token male in the New York group, was taking a critical approach to appropriated photographs, most famously of the romantic Marlboro Man cowboy. But no man in the 1970s could have made Sherman’s “Untitled Film Stills” (1977-80). Nearly a dozen works from the series are in the Met show. Here, Sherman presents female movie stereotypes with a caustic humor that mocks the way men fantasized about women, while giving women who internalize those stereotypes a sharp poke in the ribs.
Bloom remembers seeing Levine’s appropriated Walker Evans photos and thinking, “Oh my God, that is so radical and so insane. It was also brilliant. Sherrie didn’t address any of the esthetic issues, just narrowed it down to the most essential idea about what constitutes ownership of an image, and that was it.”
Read “Photo Play” in its entirety at the Art in America website
The Pictures Generation at the Met