Friday, October 5, 2007

Silverstein Photography Annual

Another great exhibition in New York of emerging photographers is the Silverstein Photography Annual which will be on view until October 13th at the Silverstein Gallery (535 W 24 St). This inaugural year of the show features ten curators who have each chosen an artist.
The curators are:
Philip Brookman, Corcoran Gallery
Joshua Chuang, Yale University Art Gallery
Julian Cox, High Museum of Art
Jeffrey Hoone, Light Work
Lisa Hostetler, Milwaukee Art Museum
Carol McCusker, Museum of Photographic Arts
Miriam Romais, En Foco
Britt Salvesen, Center for Creative Photography
Rod Slemmons, Museum of Contemporary Photography
Anne Tucker, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The artists chosen are:
Noelle Tan
Phillip Pisciotta
Barret Oliver
Zoë Sheehan Saldaña
Sonja Thomsen
Lisa Robinson
Lola Flash
Michael Lundgren
Curtis Mann
Will Michels

Bruce Silverstein summarizes the ideas and context behind this exhibition: “We are constantly seeking ways to enhance our representation of photography, offering a greater perspective on the past, present and future of the medium. SPA gives us this opportunity - to continue to embrace new and important ideas, to reach out to the art community around the world, and to welcome those who deserve to be seen and heard but who might not have had the chance. We are grateful to be in a position to make such a commitment.”

I found most of the work in the show to be intriguing, but I kept coming back to three artists; Michael Lundgren, Noelle Tan, and Lisa Robinson.

Michael Lundgren's desert landscapes truly captivated my imagination. His photographs, taken during a seven year residency in New Mexico take a new look at the desert landscape with the use of the traditional black and white process. He uses extremely long exposures to give the viewer a unique experience of time within the spaces he photographs. There are prints which seem to be abstracts at first with almost completely black or white surfaces; the viewer is forced to adjust to their eyes to the print to make out the details of the image. These subtle details kept me coming back and wanting to look again at his prints.

Interestingly enough, Noelle Tan's images draw a comparison to Michael Lundgren's in her use of the black and white medium in its most extreme tonalities to represent landscapes. Her work is generally all black with spots of white or vice versa. This use of abstraction brings an interesting quality to her landscapes. The viewer is able to break the prints up into geometrical forms, but a sense of reality within the photographs is lost. Curator Philip Brookman put it best when he said, "These images veer back and forth between abstraction and representation. They do not sit for long in one world or the other. The figures that populate her sparse topographic environments are sometimes indistinguishable from other inert forms: trees, roads, power poles. There are no details in her art, just sweeping generalizations in rich tones of crushing black and white."

Lisa Robinson explores the transformation of landscape through weather patterns in her series Snowbound. Growing up in the South, Robinson became fascinated with snowstorms and their effect on daily routines and regularities once she relocated to New York. She uses minimalist compositions and, a muted color pallet to paint the picture of the snowed in landscape. Curator Carol McCusker expressed her interest in the work, "What drew me to Robinson's photographs was my own experience of snowstorms, which first and foremost, force stillness. Daily Routines are disrupted. Street and air traffic cease; a quiet descends. By erasing familiar streets, sidewalks, and gardens, snowstorms create a palimpsest for us to decipher from our living room windows. The skeletal trees, the absence of people, and winter's destructive potential make it a season emblematic of death. Walking in the winter landscape can evoke contradictory feelings of dread and comfort. The cold emptiness terrifies; its still beauty soothes."

Images from top to bottom:

Moon over River Valley and Lion's Kill by: Michael Lundgren

Untitled #11 and Drawing V by: Noelle Tan

Mirage and Invisible City by: Lisa Robinson