AND/ALSO: Photography (Mis)represented @Kasmin

JTF (just the facts): A group show consisting of 15 photographic works by 6 artists/photographers, variously framed and displayed, and hung against white walls in the two room gallery space. The show was organized by Chandler Allen.

The following artists/photographers have been included in the show, with image details as background:

  • Michele Abeles: 1 archival pigment print, ceramic tile, 2014, sized 42×28 inches, unique, 1 mixed media, 2019, sized 45x34x4 inches, unique
  • Farah Al Qasimi: 2 archival inkjet prints, 2016, 2019, sized 15×11, 27×20, in editions of 5+2AP
  • Lucas Blalock: 2 archival inkjet prints, 2017, 2019, sized roughly 48×61, 88×53 inches, both unique, 1 dye sublimation print on aluminum, 2020, sized roughly 36×28 inches, in an edition of 3+2AP
  • Roe Ethridge: 2 dye sublimation prints on aluminum, 2014, 2016, 53×40, 60×40 inches, in editions of 5+2AP, 1 chest, dye sublimation prints on found wallpaper catalog, curtain rods, printed fabric, 2019, sized roughly 16x20x35 inches, unique
  • Daniel Gordon: 2 pigment prints with UV lamination, 2016, 2018, sized roughly 50×40, 59×75 inches, in editions of 3+1AP
  • Erin O’Keefe: 3 archival pigment prints, 2019, 2020, sized 25×20, 20×25, 40×32, each unique

(Installation shots below.)

Comments/Context: One of the photography world consequences of the virus pandemic has been the near complete demise of this year’s batch of curated summer group shows. While a few galleries have returned with samplers of works from their own representation lists, the usual parade of thematic or just playfully eclectic groupings of pictures has essentially disappeared. One exception to this overall trend is AND/ALSO: Photography (Mis)represented at Kasmin Gallery, which makes it stand out all the more in these evolving times.

AND/ALSO gathers together a tightly-edited selection of six contemporary photographers working in New York, each of whom is actively rethinking the traditional boundaries of the medium. For those following contemporary photography closely, all of the names here will be known and familiar; but for those bridging from contemporary art and just coming up to speed with what’s happening in contemporary photography, the included list provides a solid starting point for a survey of how 21st century photography is changing, and where some of the excitement lies.

Two of the included artists, Daniel Gordon and Erin O’Keefe, are exploring the intersection of photography and sculpture via studio constructions that are made to be photographed. O’Keefe creates illusionistic visual abstractions from painted wood blocks, using the flattening eye of the camera to collapse her tabletop space, creating confusing geometric alignments and optical overlaps. New works on view here play with curvature, rippled edges, and a circular disk that looks like black hole, deliberately (and cleverly) upending our visual assumptions about scale and presence. Gordon’s photographs take an alternate approach, building up layered still life arrangements from sculpted paper, repeatedly replacing the thing (a water jug, a peach, a bouquet of flowers) with a three-dimensional photo-replica of that thing. A deeper look uncovers nested layers of paper imagery, including printed shadows and visual echoes that replace “real” ones, and ripped edges and dollops of glue that reveal Gordon’s physical handiwork. His images reference the age old traditions of the painterly still life, and then vibrantly undermine those motifs with conceptually-sophisticated photographic stand-ins that iterate on themselves.

Lucas Blalock and Michele Abeles opt for different modes of disruption. Blalock is known for his inspired use of digital manipulation, taking crisp large format images of mundane objects in his studio and breaking them down with fragmented repetitions, overlaps, and other digital marks. Here he turns a stack of old mail into a jittering set of layered image slices and spray paint-like black marks that refuse to coalesce into a single moment or experience, and transforms a set of red numbered party cups into a built structure, the picture fragments used like digital bricks and shingles to create the whimsical form. Abeles is similarly interested in texture, but she pulls her studies into the physical realm, incorporating readymade three dimensional objects into her compositions. In a work from 2014, Abeles starts with an image of braided hair and a geometric-print bag and interrupts those surfaces and patterns with white ceramic tiles that float on top of print; by 2019, that conflicted layering has increased, with images now mixed with tinted plastic sheets, perforated arrays, and a rubber sandal. Her works upend our usual sense of the single photographic picture plane, using sculptural depth and aggregation to construct linked associations.

The other two artists in the show, Roe Ethridge and Farah Al Qasimi, provide the clearest link back to straight photography, but that doesn’t make their works any less confounding. In Ethridge’s case, he has consistently settled into the intermediate zone between commercial, fashion, and fine art aesthetics, appropriating and reapplying styles to different genres of imagery and challenging our expectations about how certain images function. He does so again here with a brightly lit portrait of a horse for Celine, the scruffy animal given unexpectedly regal treatment. Farah Al Qasimi’s works traffic in similar misdirections, with the silky cloth outside a manufactured goods kiosk seen with the elegance of carved stone and a blue gloved hand holding a falcon at an animal hospital turning the aggressive bird of prey into something more gentle and vulnerable.

While summer group shows can often feel flabby or flat (perhaps in synch with the casualness of the hot season), this one hits a note of surgical efficiency. It surfaces a logical group of deserving and related names, collects a diverse but integrated bunch of works from those artists, and lets the synergies and harmonies between the images intermingle. The show functions well as both an update and an introductory survey, delivering enough lively visual energy to pleasingly confound a wide range of summertime visitors.

Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced as follows, by artist/photographer:

  • Michele Abeles: $16000, $20000
  • Farah Al Qasimi: $1800, $3850
  • Lucas Blalock: $7000, $20000, $24000
  • Roe Ethridge: $20000, $25000, $28000
  • Daniel Gordon: $13000, $20000
  • Erin O’Keefe: $7500, $7500, $12000

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Read more about: Daniel Gordon, Erin O'Keefe, Farah Al Qasimi, Lucas Blalock, Michele Abeles, Roe Ethridge, Paul Kasmin Gallery

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