You Can’t Get There From Here
Curated by Evan Mirapaul
Exhibition: September 10 – October 30, 2010
Opening reception: Friday, September 10, 6 – 8pm
Featuring work by:
Stephen Berkman, Marco Citron,
Jan Dziaczkowski and Joanna Rajkowska
Baxter St at CCNY is proud to present You Can’t Get There From Here, an exhibition of four contemporary photographers who challenge our perceptions of time and place. The world as depicted by these photographers may seem familiar and real, but is, in fact, constructed or deliberately out of synch with our expectations. These artists, using a variety of techniques such as collage, antiquarian processes, and color shifts, create a visual reality that seems tangible and real, but is inaccessible to us in every way except our imaginations. Upon closer examination certain elements in these pictures are jarring or anachronistic, forcing viewers to reconsider their preconceptions about each scene, and, by extension, assumptions about how we see the world. You Can’t Get There From Here, is the fourth in a series of guest-curated exhibitions at Baxter St at CCNY.
Stephen Berkman’s work is rooted in another age. As he says, “My objective is to make my photographic works as timely and as relevant to the 19th century as I possibly can. ” Indeed, his portraits seem to be the lost work of a time-traveling tintype or Daguerrotype maker, one who brings his anachronistic modern aesthetic to an antique process. Like many artists in this exhibit, Berkman views history as a plastic and malleable concept.
Jan Dziaczkowski (pronounced: jotch-kov-skee) imagines a different history for Western Europe. What if the Iron Curtain had extended through the UK? How would Western European capitals look if the socialist architecture of the Cold War had taken root across Europe? Jan Dziaczkowski uses period postcards as base material that he collages into cityscapes that look realistic and familiar. These postcards come from a European vacation that didn’t happen, but is easily imaginable.
Marco Citron is also inspired by postcards, notably the Martin Parr collection titled Boring Postcards. Mr. Citron seeks out locations and vantage points in Eastern Europe that seem to have never moved beyond the 1950s or 60s aesthetic, which he then photographs in that periodâ€™s flat postcard style. Artificial coloring is added to heighten the effect of a place suspended in time. Though we could actually visit these places (they are the only photographs in the show that present an unaltered contemporary landscape), Citron’s perspective places them firmly in another era, one unavailable to us photographically, politically, and physically.
In her series Postcards From Switzerland, Joanna Rajkowska (pronounced: rye-kov-ska) uses Photoshop to combine two wildly disparate urban environments. Uniting images from public spaces in Bern, Switzerland with images from places of conflict in the Middle East, the surprise is not how different these places look, but how unnoticeable many of the additions are. The artist says, “Israeli checkpoints and blockades fit almost imperceptibly into a ‘Western European cityscape’. ” Despite how far away and foreign the armed hotspots of the world may seem to us, Ms. Rajkowska shows us how quickly and easily they could be made a part of our own familiar terrain.