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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Welcome to the Gallery

posted by on August 29 at 9:30 AM

A few weeks ago, Abigail Guay gave a little criticism to the juried group show Up & Now at Photographic Center Northwest. (It closes tomorrow, Aug. 30).

Guay was being generous. It’s a show of aggressive calculation. Almost every photograph seems to intend either to be elusive or revelatory, with largely flat or overstated results. Emptiness can be derived from too much effort as easily as from too little. In photography, it’s always a balance.

The first images you encounter in the gallery are droll portents of the failure to connect. They’re three shots of Chelsea galleries from a series of 14 photographs by Andy Freeberg called Sentry: Gallery Desks in Chelsea.

In each one, Freeberg entered a gallery and found an attendant sitting behind a high desk, almost entirely obscured. Given that you could probably get this shot in almost any gallery if you stand at the right distance from the desk, Freeberg’s series is not an entirely fair critique of gallery culture—but it makes its case persuasively, providing good ammo for anyone who’s ever felt excluded in a gallery (and who hasn’t?). The photographer seems to be standing outside the centers of art looking in, a place photography held for decades before it was accepted as a fine art form. (Digital prints are still frowned upon; something always is.)

Here’s Pace Wildenstein:


Here’s Metro Pictures:


Here’s Cheim & Reid:


And here’s my favorite portrait in the series, taken at Andrea Rosen (it just seems slightly more psychotic than the rest):


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I think the plant on the last one helps it look nice and crazy...

Posted by brappy | August 29, 2007 9:50 AM

I'm outta here. Have to stop off first at the license car tabs place next to the abandoned Long's Drugs (i really liked that place). I'll recommend a plant if they give a shit about such aesthetics. Although, last year they did have some historical photos, MLK-like or something. Cheerio!!O

Posted by Garrett | August 29, 2007 10:01 AM

That's a classic example of the subjective nature of how a photo is shot. These are all taken from the level of the desk, not eye-level.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I do it all the time, I'm just saying.

Regardless, it's a great series.

Posted by Todd | August 29, 2007 12:55 PM

wayyy too bland in my opinion, but i haven't had too many photos hung in galleries before...

oh wow. i really did forget. i DID have a photo hung somewhere. i'm still a nobody though.

Posted by freqency ass bandit | August 29, 2007 8:27 PM

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