Making and Taking: “Pictures” Reconsidered
A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn NY
A.I.R. Gallery’s 11th Biennial Exhibition
December 4 2014 - January 3 2015
Making and Taking: “Pictures” Reconsidered, curated by Nancy Princenthal, is an exhibition of thirty–three artists of diverse backgrounds, from the United States, Canada, and Israel.
Nancy Princenthal writes: This biennial results from an open invitation to female artists “investigating the intersection of hand produced and photographic pictures.” To dig around a little in the show’s premise, and title: I was thinking, in part, of the old chestnut, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” It is a pronouncement made by Ansel Adams, he of the transcendent Western landscapes, seemingly given to him direct by the gods of sunlight, shadow and wind. But like landscape itself, Adams’s images, he tell us, weren’t there until seen and framed—and then shot, printed, and, we now know, manipulated. We know, too, that manipulated photographs go back to the birth of photography; so-edged, hazily lit and symbolically rich Pictorialist images of the late nineteenth century were not the first to demonstrate that painterly effects could be achieved with a camera, light-sensitive emulsion, and various darkroom maneuvers. It is a tradition rich with
women photographers, from Julia Margaret Cameron and Gertrude Käsebier to Sally Mann. I found, in (the artwork selected), a widely shared pleasure in mixing the digital and the analog and in violating technical protocols; in reversals, inversions, and shadows, and the representation of things that are not quite there.
Photography, for these artists, is often a tool
of introspection and of memory; painting a way of gorging on photography, of chewing it up and spitting it back out.