Walking is rarely an end in itself. It is a way to get from one place to another. In a city like New York, it is a way to get from one meeting to another, or from one espresso to the next. To walk in New York City is, above all, to walk in a hurry. The Belgian-Mexican artist Francis Alÿs once said the following regarding his “artistic walks” throughout Mexico City’s downtown. “Walking, in particular drifting, or strolling, is already –with the speed culture of our time– a kind of resistance.”
Mexican artist and activist Amanda Gutiérrez left Mexico in 2002 to pursue an MFA program at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she began investigating the public space–mainly, specific neighborhoods–through walking. Over the past two years, she has continued her artistic practice in the streets of New York City, where she currently resides. Her exhibition, Walking in Lightness at Baxter St – a series of collages, photographic prints and a video– announces, even from its title, that walking is a central element, if not the central element, of the show. The works in the exhibition are all explorations of one of the most eclectic neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Sunset Park, where the predominant presence of Mexican immigrants makes her feel at home. The pumpkin flowers, fruit stands, mariachi clothes, huitlacoches and aguas frescas, which are sold along the barrio’s main street add to this sense of familiarity. In the video that has the same title as the exhibition, we see the hands of the artist manipulating a series of prints in the dark room while we listen to her narration:
I’m walking on a street that seems
familiar to me even when I have
never been here.
That is where other people with
cultural similarities concentrate,
Eat and share things that are mute,
invisible to others.
Amanda Gutiérrez could be understood as subversive, strolling through the city at her own pace and opposing the convulsive rhythm of capitalism that sustains a metropolis like New York. But to begin to analyze the work of Gutiérrez, one should not only think of the walk as a criticism of the vertiginous rhythm of modernity à la Alÿs, but also, and above all, as an exercise of a human right.
The history of walking should ideally be, as Rebecca Solnit points out in Wanderlust: A History of Walking (2000), “a history of freedom and of the definition of pleasure.” However, the possibility of walking like this, freely and pleasantly, is determined by aspects of gender, race and class. It is the social and political conditions of the different regions around the world that determine who can enjoy the pleasure of walking and who cannot. Let’s think, for example, of Mrs. Dalloway-–the protagonist in Virginia Woolf’s famous book of the same title– who starts her day, one morning in June, by going out of her house to get some flowers. 1 While women (we must add, white upper-class women) could dare to wander and feel the bursting atmosphere of London in the twenties, today (almost a century later) a woman in Mexico, Honduras or El Salvador would put herself in position of vulnerability by doing so. Put in, say, Ciudad Juárez, Clarissa Dalloway would go get the flowers with fear. After sunset and in certain areas, she would perhaps not leave the house by herself at all.
Let’s pause to reflect on the following: in Mexico, more than seven women are killed each day. Moreover, in the last ten years more than 23,800 women have been killed: one of the highest femicide rates in the world2. In Mexico City, where Amanda Gutiérrez was born, walking alone through the city, like a flâneur 3 –or rather, a flâneuse– would not be free of risk. In her video piece, we hear Gutiérrez talk about the violence that women have suffered in Mexico during the past decades, violence which has moved her to live abroad and exercise certain rights more freely, such as that of walking alone:
“Why did I come here?
The safeness that I can’t find in
my own space.
The opportunities to keep walking
over my own shoulders.
I cannot describe the feeling of
seeing women with less luck
That’s why we are moving here
At least that is why I moved here.
Where there is some noise on the
It often happens that neighborhoods populated mostly by immigrants are constantly constructed by adapting original rituals and iconic symbols from the cultures left behind. Be it Sunset Park, Harlem, or Chinatown, they all become a representation of a “paradise lost.” In the diptych Paradise Memories 1,2, (2017), Gutiérrez explores this idea by photographing the oldest Latin-American grocery store in Harlem, which has a mural of a rural dream-like scenario: fertile corn fields and harvests of tropical fruits. In an interview, Gutiérrez mentions that what attracts her to this mural is how these romanticized depictions function as a “placemaking” of neighborhoods, capitalizing on the sense of identity for the community.
Within that same line is the colorful series of photographs Calibrando Exotificación (2018), composed by nineteen C-prints of one single image in which we see four pineapples and a bunch of bananas hanging. This image could well be a photograph of any fruit stand in any Mexican market and is reminiscent of those spontaneous sculptures that Gabriel Orozco photographed in the 1990s –- images with infinite metaphorical possibilities. Here the pineapples and the bananas are barely leaning one against the other, almost affectively and somewhat vulnerably, like relatives who suddenly looked up to pose for a family portrait.
The nineteen C-prints that integrate this series are Gutiérrez’s experiments in the color darkroom: different time exposures deliver prints that are so dark, or so luminous, that the image is barely perceived; different contrasts and color intensities produce prints that are so excessively cold or warm that the image gets lost behind the prominence of color. However, rather than reducing this series to a mere formal investigation of light, color and contrast, one ought to ask: what is the calibration of color and lighting needed to reach the “right” degree of exoticism? What is the proper combination of exoticism and universality that international artistic products require to be validated by American institutions? How “Mexican” does the art produced by Mexican artists needs to be? What does it mean to be a female Mexican artist today in the global art world?
If Sunset Park provides Gutiérrez a spectacle of pineapples, bananas and papayas — a choreography of aesthetic codes that every Latin-American immigrant understands and extols — she seeks to find some tension in it. Her work hopes to dismantle any sort of national cliché. Although her work in Sunset Park starts with an appetite similar to that of an ethnographic researcher, one who tries to shed light on the codifications of the color, fauna and flora of the neighborhood, it does not acquire that flat nature of purely documentary photography. In her work, Gutiérrez does not present Sunset Park through a lens of nostalgia, but rather highlights how porous and malleable the different cultural identities are when they exist in and adapt to new geographies. In her explorations along Sunset Park’s 5th Ave, the combination of more than one nationality unfolds and suggests a plural temporality. Gutiérrez says, “Where today live Mexicans, Syrians, Lebanese and Asians, before that were Puerto Ricans and Dominicans and, tomorrow, who knows.” It is part of Brooklyn’s essence that diverse cultural practices intersect and impact one another. One of Gutiérrez’s challenges is to document this coexistence (which is not always harmonious) with just one disposable camera and without portraying a single person. In her work she has decided to never portray people, much less immigrants, “because of the state of vulnerability in which these people live already.” The result of this restriction is that the images become a bit more difficult to codify, demanding that the viewer renounce a passive stance and become an active participant in the understanding of the work.
In her series of collages, contrasting cultural and aesthetic symbols overlap and cohabitate the same frame. In Paradise Memories 3 (2017), a photograph that depicts four glass barrels filled with tropical aguas frescas juxtaposes another photograph of plants growing wildly in, the artist tells me, a vacant lot located just in front. In Similacrum 1 (2017), Gutiérrez shows us the outside of a laundromat maily frequented by women from the Middle East (we do not see the women in the image, of course). A notice with the slogan “If you suspect terrorism, call the NYPD” is attached to the laundry’s glass window. Below this black and white image is a fragment of a color photograph showing a piece of the yellow roof of the building located directly in front of the laundry (the building is a McDonalds, but we don’t see that either). This single frame contains the harassment experienced by Middle Eastern immigrants along with its counterpart: the popular bright-yellow symbol of the “American dream”. In both of these collages as well as virtually all of the pieces that compose Walking in Lightness, what may at first glance seem to be mere aesthetic explorations of transcultural dynamics, at second glance are, ultimately, pieces loaded with political meaning.
I will conclude by going back to the very beginning of the show and talk about the series of black-and-white photographs the viewer sees when entering Baxter St. The titles of these series are key. The first of them, Asimilación cultural o de cómo aprendí a ser ligeramente blanca 1, translates to Cultural assimilation or how I learned to be slightly white, and consists of four monochromatic prints of the same image, each one of them printed with different gradations of light. The image shows a trio of girl-sized mannequins wearing first communion dresses behind a store’s glass window. In the first print, the image is totally “burned” or underexposed, that is, it is almost a black print, and the mannequins are not even visible. In the second print, the image appears, but with just enough light to barely see some girl-like figures. In the third image, these “girls” become a little clearer, and by the fourth print these “girls” are completely whitened.
For a Mexican viewer like myself, these series of images ranging from black to white immediately refer to the terrible racist structure experienced within Mexican society. Racism in Mexico is perpetrated daily and, for many, sometimes invisibly. The logic of white supremacy that arose with the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century and the consequent marginalization of indigenous people, has dragged through to the present in a very profound way. This is in part due to the overwhelming publicity of whiteness as the representation of success and power in the culture of global consumption. 4 As explained here by sociologist Mónica Moreno Figueroa, the idea that ultimately all Mexicans are children of both indigenous people and Spaniards, that is, the myth of mestizaje, is what serves to hide our deep racism. Our reality is that there is a hierarchy of skin color, and consequent practices of oppression against the dark skinned (morenos), the indigenous, and the Afro-Mexican are practiced every day in many ways. Racist practices are even perpetrated in intimate family dynamics.5 Federico Navarrete in his Alfabeto del racismo mexicano (Malpaso, 2017), sums it up in this way:
“In our social life we Mexicans place ourselves continuously, and are placed by others, on a chromatic scale that associates whiteness, natural or artificial, with beauty and privilege, power and wealth, and its “opposite”, that is, dark skin, with ugliness, marginality and poverty. This pyramid of phenotypes (…) allows us to determine, almost automatically, who deserves our admiration and envy and who our contempt and our pity.” (Navarrete).
The racial discrimination against the Mexican brown population only increases when crossing the United States border. In Asimilación cultural o de cómo aprendí a ser visible (2018), which translates to Cultural assimilation or how I learned to become visible, a triptych that follows the same formal exercise of applying different light gradations to one same image (the image of two boy-sized mannequins wearing the typical formal Mexican “charro” gowns), Gutiérrez reminds us how when brown Mexicans migrate to the United States, they are drained of any cultural heritage just to be rendered “illegals”. Their migratory status and the constant threat of getting deported relegate them to labors that accentuate their social invisibility, such as cleaning dishes behind kitchens. The discourse of white supremacy and xenophobia that has resurfaced so strongly in the United States during the last years has become an inescapable subject-matter for Gutiérrez. One of the many great achievements of these last series of photographs, and perhaps of Gutiérrez’ entire show, is that with the use of very simple imagery, she manages to bring light to an array of resistances. The imagery obtained from her repeated walks in just one neighborhood in Brooklyn highlights the many daily encounters which are invisible to most city-walkers, who rarely, if ever, notice the politics of their immediate surroundings.
1. The book opens with this phrase: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” A few paragraphs later, Woolf beautifully addresses the atmospheric experience of Mrs. Dalloway walking in London: “In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.”
3. Walter Benjamin described the flâneur as the essential (obviously male) figure of modernity, a sort of urban spectator/detective of the city in the XIX century.
4. Navarrete, Federico, Alfabeto del racismo mexicano (México: Malpaso, 2017), 19.
5. Moreno reminds us of the well-known dynamic that, when only a few minutes after the birth of a baby, family members ask if the baby came out dark or white (“güerito”).
Behold those who memorialize the aftermath of a camera. Photographs. For artistry and memory, or travels to lands and narratives unknown. The twenty-fifth issue of DEAR DAVE, magazine ennobles the embodiment of personal feelings. Is it nostalgia, or is it for newness? Photography is not of moments—rather, they allow us each to create one for ourselves in an exchange with the frames we look at. The plurality is crisp and quite profound. Possibly the only reality is the one we each perceive. That acknowledgement is expansive and elaborate. So too are the confessions of the twenty-five contributors in this issue of DEAR DAVE,. Each has been asked to reflect on an image that means something to them. The privacy of lives is a reflection of desire in the photographs they have selected. Their interpretations are solid, or poetic—poignant, and lovely.
This contemporary publication continues to push the boundaries of the medium and itself. I am happy to say that over the course of its history—ten years—DEAR DAVE, has never been the same. The mission that all great imagery strives for drives those involved. Breaking expectation and challenging notions make this publication a force to be reckoned with. Don’t miss it!
To find out more about DEAR DAVE, magazine and how to subscribe click here.
Cultures are identified by feats of strength and icons. Societies are made up of people, parts, places, and passions. Wrestling is wonderfully ancient. Its aesthetics are expansive in practices and homes. Grappling such combat is filled with focus and gesture. The sport is varied in rule and method. History meets modern styles. Incorporated mythology is encapsulated by the photography of Ben McNutt. He is a wonderer of specifics and the geopolitics of the community his sport embodies. The patronage of wrestling is not lost on these images. Exercise and show expound great reliefs of activity and fair. Tournaments bring people together; they are every creed. The celebration of camaraderie and friendships is exposed beyond languages, something deeper forms in passions and drive.
McNutt’s imagery is curious. “What am I photographing?” He endeavors a prying eye and exquisite light. Flesh and sweat, smell. His images are social and complex in mystery. Who are these men? What are their goals? Zeus became the ruler of Earth after wrestling his father Cronus. There is a magical prowess lurking in the depths of bodies. People are glorious. They create something more than themselves, it floats in the air and attracts. McNutt is after that desire. Answers are in images and in the moment of capture it may be impossible to know exactly what anything is. Knowing is after things happen; this is when pictures get made. Clarity begets the uppermost layer of things that are finished. The joy is delving back into them once they’re made.
Feelings come together with surprises and informed imagery in McNutt’s work. The information of the pictures cries out to great colors and forms. The body beguiles new possibilities in extracted reform. The allure of elements transforms, things become sculptural and details feel illustrated. The document of wrestling goes back fifteen thousand years, drawings on walls, French, Babylonian, Egyptian reliefs. McNutt’s work moves amongst rich histories and adds new breath and possibility. What’s said is as much about the body as it is about the ideals these men uphold. They are beautiful and unusual. Athleticism is incorporated, but isn’t completely necessary to appreciate. The layers are parts, conversations move, quiet and together.
Wrestling is a thing of local folklore and international organization. Great homes, institutions, and collections raise the platform of these icons for a multitude of reasons. Styles are free and amateur, bodies brawl on beaches and mattes with oils on flesh. Singlets and earguards cup and protect. Little eccentricities and personalities individualize the regalia and are unmistakable to wrestling itself. The form of a man is exciting, but all contacts between individuals kindle desires and impressions of the world around them. Ben McNutt is of the world and the photographs are too. Bonds of trust and citizenry populate. In scale and security the significance of sport becomes more than show.
Ben is currently preparing for a trip to photograph Turkey’s annual Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Tournament which began in 1346. Please take a minute to consider some of his original merchandise and art by clicking here. The proceeds help go towards supplies and materials to make this trip and new body of work possible. To see more of Ben McNutt’s work click here.
Natures are bound and not perfect. Identity is formed, but how? Immersion in discomforts and joys are ways of forming something like home. A room becomes confused by the canopy of plants and unfamiliar life. Forms become hot and weird. A windy city connects to the tropics and compositions can become all wrapped up in elements of installation and photography and colors and rocks and stuff upon stuff. Eileen Rae Walsh associates physicality with variations in tone and stresses how important humor is. Particles become parts; full resolutions concoct study and reflection. Her works are on walls and tables but they are connected back—to you. Looking becomes personal, not that it isn’t always, but in Walsh your self becomes inoculated and coherent. Senses vary in tone, terrible and beautiful. Wonderfully baffled in the circus of self-loathing and pride. They are not without each other, they are for one another, and you are for you.
Elasticity between big and small accesses things that are broad and specific, but specific shouldn’t remove possibility. The excursion of Walsh is a gas, a graze, a visceral balance of baring witness, and walking through doors. Not necessarily literal doors, but her work is not only on the surface. “We are not limitless, but we love running toward places.” Grasping and potential for relationships consume and absorb the swell of Walsh’s constructed visual conversations. The sky arches, and that kind of space is outside as much as it is inside. Those insides are in structures like architecture and skulls, vaulted and vexing. It becomes supernatural.
All events occur. Tensions are formed in critical observations and depths of field are flattened and found in images. Something about photography transforms—everything. Tools extract feelings and stars and dust and the everyday. Presented and playful we form ourselves in the environment; the Earth is in shapes and sizes, saturations and hues. Walsh is of the same meat, the works she produces are for pulp and flesh, carnal humanity, exude such illustrious things and shift what might be true. The ubiquitous and pedestrian are in everything. Anything can reign true in the cover of relationships. “I can make things that aren’t happening seem like they are happening.” Beyond perception Walsh is after such play and excursion.
Confusing and amazing is alchemy. Pleasure is turned on by the world. Channels of strength form buildings and rules. Being inside the body is shuddered by feelings and experiences. The work dissolves the maker when it comes into being. A universe is formed for people. The body is carnage. Walsh is in the service of others; viewers push through the framework of her art. Wanting and fearing are together and dissolution washes over all that anxiety in free form—like jazz.
To see more of Eileen Rae Walsh’s work click here.
Artifacts encompass catalogues. Photography encases lives lived and longing life from lands unknown. Blood is profoundly placed in imagery. Its intimacy and dire needs are together and received. In Logan Bellew a journey to shores and sands with cities and men is not wasted. Life billows in hair and heart. The heart is buried unsure. Eyes are cast on photos; stories and streets emerge from elsewhere. There are no ships or roads, an intimate experience feeds passion, and all will arrive, but maybe not with certainty.
What do pictures actually mean to you?
In the time it takes to make photography it lives its own life. Fragments can be glued back together. Disciples of ancient dystopias form new histories. Techniques find growing joys. Bellew’s works are a story of autonomy slipping away. Positivity comes in forms of brokenness. Hollers of trauma necessitate education. Perhaps the self can be put back together. Materials can speak to that self; they craft ideas and images. Movement looks towards things in new ways. Residue is captured in sustained responses. The genesis of our pasts beckons us back. And forward. Tension is light and can become a source for exploration. The imagery may be new, but it is no stranger.
Arrivals are visitors. Tools shake up process and capability after something illuminates. Haunting memories provoke involuntary births. Ghosts of the mind exist in brief flashes. Bellew’s photography is ennobled in various voice and visual representations. The imagery establishes its own community. Meetings are often forced in lands where beliefs and expressions are filled to the brim with judgments and uncertainties. Connections still call and figures move forward. The works are formed in certain carnal relations. Sensations and mourning escape, and apt fragments form knowledge and secrets. There are a million reasons not to do something, but that’s never stopped the bizarre calling of frenzy before.
Bitter and sweet form edges that can imbue all mediated distances. Subjects are always in twos. Hiding reveals. Never the same. As viewers we go to other lands in the grips of photography. That ocean of imagery is indicted by decay; it’s up to minds and life to not weaken in ruin. Roaming in fields, or maybe just in corners, colleagues and associations can follow hope. Housed in wherever, that wreckage will bloom. Life is not wasted it waits for the whole Earth. A city is better when it’s Bellew’s. The boundaries are freed because they need.
To see more of Logan Bellew’s work click here.
Images form cultures. Cocooned and eager, the restaged interpret reality. What is reality and how do we interact? Are we sure enough, and do we question enough? Are eyes capable of knowing what they’re seeing, or is it all taken for granted? A poem is fragmented; appreciation can come in full shapes and sizes. A mystery is puzzled in shavings and specifics. A foundation materializes. Lisa Fairstein casts Deep Shade on the walls of Baxter Street Camera Club of New York. The show is some strange new world.
HALT! WHO GOES THERE?
Something’s not quite right, in all the best ways something can be. The threshold of Fairstein’s imagery is wondrously cunning in offbeat repetitions and staccato. Messages behave, but how? Pointed and casual. Here is a heavenly body of slow images inspired from fast looking. They float like one does on the surface layer of water in a pool, nearly suffocated. There’s a strange sound in the murky clog. The real is outside, but the new forms underneath, overlapped and confused in the sense of what we’re seeing. Conspicuous and uncanny. The photography declares itself for consideration.
Faristein’s photos are authentic and muddled in rearrangement. They are glorious in such contradiction. They are warm and cool at the same time—familiar yet not quite right. What is correct is intention and interpretation. There is a tight space in photography that drives it to be interesting and compelling in representation. Removed from narrative depths of mimicry indicate exquisite construction. Shade, color, the inappropriate or possibly even grotesque fuel the fires of hell and imagination. Liberty is in the fingers of fear; high and low culture interweave. The common becomes driven and extraordinary. The works are gypsies, living by way of itinerant trade and fortune telling.
Hybrids see all forms; their urgency references the everyday. What are the edges? How do we interact with real life? Lived in different lives, defined or playful, natural relationships with time form a thankful ability to appreciate enjoyment. Some things we shouldn’t have to talk about, like volume and looking. Exploration is important and not everything should be given away. Indications of gestures are sincere in the smoke of Fairstein’s Deep Shade.
Don’t miss Deep Shade open till June 3rd. To see more of Lisa Faristein’s work click here.
Colors coded in commodity and consumption. Overtone, undertone. Primary, secondary, tertiary color. Contrast layering; execute the plenty of Sara Cwynar‘s compositions. Her show Rose Gold at Foxy Production in New York is of collected knickknacks caricatured through a galaxy of assemblage and whatnots. Discourse, communicative, assimilates dense environments. Peculiar lists collaged and absorbed photographically. You and me become visions of rearrangements, gender and experience buried in metaphor of materials. Crowns of kings and queens are curious in the hole of exploration. Let go. Items are inescapable, often flustered by a single color. Like Rose Gold. Objects of desire are confused in personification.
What does technology provide?
Idealism. Thinking researched, bound in theory politics. Final images are strong and specific. Color and texture seek deeper thinking and readings of needs and surface. An image is still, and an image moves. Bona fide forefronts of invention perform representations of men and women. All the while the colors—the colors—made with great optimism and wonders of value. Power dynamics procured to inspire subjective interpretation. Cwynar’s works make wonder of how buying and selling affect people. Societal and structural. Pounded through planes of glass and illusion, but not quite, the works are invested and literal—though constructed and particular. Emotional wants effect satisfaction. Cwynar is a wrangler of enormous amounts of information into a single thing.
Irony is almost a parody, but realism is casual and contemporary. The time period of Rose Gold is confused and surprised in occurrences and combined mistakes. So much of Cwynar is in the works, personal ephemera and whatit’s. Technology is gendered; how does power work in relation to technology? Information organizes the structure of the photography. Depth and space spin a web of interaction and lights. The uses of the camera transform. Replication is a way to transfer language and sciences, explorative and experimented. Cwynar’s works are longing to make critiques in hues and vigorous design. Thinking through anatomies of advertising ruminate what gets seen and what doesn’t.
It may not have worked for a while. Work has a way of being on top. It touches down and finds its fiction. A jungle of premise conjures artistic rhythm. Sharp attention keeps things fun. Interconnected parts are consumed into themselves; they are fed and recycled, restored and replenished. New things are revealing. Precision is haunted by a controlled narrative. Does anyone think about how women become aware in the world? Differences in appreciation. Conversations start and finish, but when I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed.
What kinship exists between language and nature? Science and art are comorbid in wonderful and embellished community. There is a complex, an infinite reproduction of space and natural world. Fabricated environments obscure origins; finding beginnings is impossible. What is reality? Break down, unrecognizable. If the plausible is captured, its execution is realized in the commitment of Mark Dorf’s show Transposition. This is Dorf’s second solo show at Postmasters Gallery in New York City, which propagates new visions and inquisitive illusions. Hounds and pillars of bark and verdure embellish places profound in lush flora. But those places we idolize as propagates of plants and gardened colors are not without their own botanical cretins of embellishment. Dorf’s choices to simplify continually exchanging in-between spaces form distinguishably new ideas.
None of the works represent the things originally seen. Where did they come from? Descriptors of consciousness become characters of what’s not exactly in front of you. Calling sounds marked by new parts; trees becoming duplicitous. Lines and zestful visual devices perpetuate elements forming vowels and voices. The Earth speaks. Tools construct parts and influence. Descriptive qualities become important problem solvers. Discourse and diction are able to transfigure in the face of Dorf’s imagery. The time allotted to artistry is full figured and mounted in constructions and presentation. What makes case in the associates of Transposition is contemplative encounter. The works are corporeal; the symbiosis of viewer is its stimulant—hypnotized and harmonious spectrum. Variables become consumed.
Interaction and changes blur lines and gravity seems weak. Look down. Structure and digital consumption fuse the Earth. Holdings of acres become rich and ached in a new abeyant kingdom. Strange phenomenon. Everything is impeccably beautiful but also ugly and desolate, consumed and fetishized. Something is revealed through such hidings. Infinite malleability of surface. Planes are grounded in reality and invisible becomes capable and physical. Worlds can affect viewers so directly, they can’t affect back. Piercing sight the works pulp shifts. Hypothesis allows for revelation. We live in complex systems. Parts fuse, organic feeds the manufactured and so traverse back again.
Intricacies devour themselves. A structure of new life filled with affection and jargon consummates Dorf’s exposure. Conflated gest with qualities and description become remarkable and exquisite. They have within them the desire of fable, photographic yes, but beyond that astoundingly artistic. The Earth’s psyche is revealed in the forms of creative mind. That which is possible resides inside us all. Dorf is an instigator. The body is buried, feel it coming on and leaving you. The forest calls out in gesture; an attraction to the summons is utilized by the treacherous introduction of mysterious birth. The marsh calls for intervention, it is ripe for it. Manipulative qualities, absurd in definition are yearning to be heard.
Forming structures driven deep into the soil. Sounds and steel coerce a skeleton into glass and sky. Not quite flight but levitation. Architecture is formed on the backs of people, not wings or birds, but bags and pounds. Areas divulge into treatments and changes. Blue of prints and skies formulate sites and precision. Bungee’s elastic and qualities of print find voice in complex structure of Ryan Oskin’s show Subdivision. Play and interpretations of the gallery’s site; Rubber Factory becomes a new space. New depth, shapes and sizes, walk through, walk around and under. Oskin has constructed a sort of labyrinth. Materials adapted and touched—there’s a lot of room to play with evaluation.
Reacting to the quality of the site, Oskin’s work finds voice. There are no prescriptions; there is only unique process. The pressing meticulousness of artist is present at all times. No one else could make such choices for the works. The artistry of the installation deals in abstraction, but is very rooted in representation. Art has a way of dealing in such dualisms. It cannot be passive. Layering is significant. Matching isn’t real; reinterpretation and possibility drive pleasures of seeing. Being inside feels complex but in a totally removed way. How do we interact? How do we look? Seeing and standing are of utter significance. Like all good structure bound in photographic process and imagery, choreography becomes essential. Subdivision beckons a dance under tightrope.
Physicality needs to instigate space. Active configurations and relationships tell us how to connect, or at least leave us the possibility to establish emboldened marriages. Open-ended space is important, and recognizing how we put ourselves into something cannot be diffident. What’s left unoccupied releases control. It’s important to acknowledge that submission, it’s so integral to the photography and installation of Subdivision. Architecture, like photography, is interactive and contemplative. It has potential for surface and excursion. Guts and façade are confused in this way and it’s up to viewers to utilize what stands before them.
Work needs a new life. There needs to be surprises. Visions and realizations are absorbed. Questions assemble inquiry. How many windows are in a building?
Words by Kelly Smith, edited by Efrem Zelony-Mindell
My work is about the relationship between life and death. Feeling anxious and trapped. Looking for an escape and not really finding resolution. I’ve always had an interest in death – seeing beauty in what’s often overpowered by fear. That, in combination with depression and anxiety, has led me to this body of work.
I think the mechanics of the body – how it works, how it moves, the bones, the muscles, the blood, the whole anatomy, is incredibly beautiful. And one day, it just stops. You become hardware, waiting to be buried, or burned, or dismembered and dispersed to people who need your spare parts. But then there’s the software. The brain, the mind. The brain is the most important part of your body. It determines whether or not you’re alive, and you have absolutely no control over it. Which is crazy. You can’t just tell your heart to stop beating. You can’t overwrite your brain with your mind. It’s so powerful. Yet something as simple as a chemical imbalance, or a hormone deficiency can make your entire world spiral downward. It can make your mind shut down. Out of nowhere you find yourself floating. You can’t get out. You can’t move. You’re stuck.
You can lose all motivation, and certainty. Nothing makes sense. You lose yourself. You lose capability of portraying emotions and you’re empty. There’s nothing.
Which brings me to death.
Death is, to me, the most beautiful part of all this. The mystery behind it. What comes after you die, if anything. Meat is something that people consume somewhat regularly. However, they get uncomfortable when they have to look at it or touch it in an uncooked state. It resembles human flesh. It’s staring at the dead. I think it’s something to pay attention to. Bones are so beautiful—they keep you up. There’s beauty in thinking about these things unconventionally. What may be considered gross, or visceral, or scary has a beauty built inside of it. It’s important to look past what makes you uncomfortable.