Last week, I attended the opening reception of the CCNY staff group show titled Don’t Look Back that was co-curated by I-Hsuen Chen and Alexander Perrelli. The show is up through this Saturday, July 27th.
It is always interesting to me with group shows where each artist is only showing 1-2 pieces to see how curators weave a story out of the show’s theme. In this case, Chen and Perrelli open their show with three images that instantly set a melancholic tone and place the viewer in limbo. First, we see Car Pelleteri’s Heather & I, Brighton Beach 16×20 print of an old snapshot of the photographer and her friend in bikinis with their backs to the camera looking over their shoulder at us. The time code on the snapshot says “91 6 28”. The next piece by John Stanley of his In a Hidden Place series shows a clearing in a wooded area with ropes or ties between tree branches. It is clear someone was here, but there is an ominous ambiguity about what we are looking at that is only amplified by the snapshot as evidence we just saw. With the third image, we meet our witness. In Michael J. Dalton II’s Untitled #13 a teenage girl lounges on a tree branch looking us in the eye with a bored expression like she knows what we’re thinking. We can have the past, because all she cares about is the future.
As the show progresses, Chen and Perrelli play with their title Don’t Look Back in a variety of interpretations that feels fun and ambitious. Ryan Foerster’s Hurricane is listed as a “unique chromogenic print with debris” – essentially a photo damaged by a storm, if we are to believe the title, creating a one-of-a-kind piece. Chen’s contribution to the show was also my personal favorite. His artist book In Between challenges the viewer in its placement of photos in the book where the central point of our attention is lost in the gutter creating a sense of frustration on the viewer’s part. It feels like Chen wants to share these moments with us, but is holding back hiding the best parts to keep for himself. Don’t Look Back also takes itself literally where we see our subjects from behind, including in Perrelli’s own work, or looking back as in Christina Thurston’s Untitled image of a young girl posing for the camera, trying to be present in the moment, but can’t help herself from turning back to see what’s been left behind.
Conversation with Kate Greenberg, curator of the exhibition “Beyond the Barrier” on view at CCNY through April 6th, 2013
“Beyond the Barrier” is a very concise exploration of connections between photography and science fiction. The works in the exhibition pit colored light against shadow, certainty against uncertainty, challenging the photograph’s standard assertion of reality and forcing the audience to re-examine truth.
Read more here.
work by Adam Ryder (L) and Brice Bischoff (R)
work by Dillon DeWaters
work by Dillon DeWaters (L) and Leah Beeferman (R)
photographs courtesy of John Stanley/CCNY
MATTE: How did you become interested in the relationship between science fiction and photography?
KG: I became interested in the relationship between science fiction and photography after viewing works by Dillon DeWaters and later Adam Ryder, who are both in the show. These artists were both dealing with a variety of sci-fi themes in their work and I decided to dive further into this genre. I am not a science fiction expert at all so it was a learning process for me.
MATTE: Why did it come down to these four artists? How do their perspectives differ?
KG: As a curator I love researching artists so this show is a mix of research that proved to pay off. I knew both Adam Ryder and Dillon DeWaters through graduate school, and had been a fan of their work for some time. I think once the wheels were turning from what I saw of their work I decided to research other artists who would fit into the exhibition. Leah’s work I found through research and we had a few friends in common. Her earlier work, “Journeys Into the Unknown”, really spoke to me for this exhibition but we decided to include new work. For me curating is always a collaboration and this is most true with Leah’s work, as she had been working on these new pieces influenced by her recent residency in the Artic Circle. I first saw Brice’s work on an album cover and tracked him down. Luckily I was able to meet him on a trip to Los Angeles last year.
In terms of perspectives, I think each artist presents a very different entry point into the world of science fiction and art. The show includes a range––references to popular culture and B movies, blurring of fact and fiction, tabletop abstractions, and how scientific data is represented. These artists can each take the viewer somewhere very different and it’s my hope that you’ll want to go further with them.
MATTE: Why now?
KG: The artists included here are all working in a variety of ways to push their mediums forward. The moment I started to work on the exhibition proposal I kept seeing art that was dealing with similar themes in various avenues––magazine issues dedicated to the topic, books and exhibitions. I think it’s very of the moment and glad that this show happened when it did.
-MATTE Magazine for CCNY