Lucas Blalock, Id, Ed, Ad, Od @Ramiken Crucible

JTF (just the facts): A total of 10 photographs, variously framed in dark/light wood and unmatted, and hung in the single room gallery space. The show includes 9 archival inkjet prints and 1 gelatin silver print, made between 2011 and 2013. Physical dimensions range from 14×11 to 54×43, in editions of 1+1AP or 3+2AP. The exhibition space has been altered by the addition of three new walls, creating a main space in the center, and smaller hidden spaces behind. (Installation shots below).

Comments/Context: Our contemporary existence is so oversaturated with imagery that we have come to expect every photograph we see to reveal itself instantly, to communicate its message without delay. Lucas Blalock’s new show offers conscious resistance to this idea of immediacy, frustrating our ability to “get the answer” quickly. His newest pictures, and the way they have been displayed, quietly undermine our voraciousness, blocking our ability to see and deconstructing the very notion of what a photograph is meant to do.

Blalock’s obstructions come in many forms. A wooden knife block is turned upside down, closing off the slots where the knives usually sit and turning it into a sculptural, geometric form. A gathering of items seemingly pulled out of a refrigerator are interrupted by spray painted black smudges that erase the branding. A self portrait is executed in the bends of two pipe cleaners, leaving behind just a hint of the original form. And everyday items like a blue plastic kiddie pool and a sheet of plywood are digitally sliced and reworked, creating jittering surfaces that fragment and reform.

Blalock takes this idea of multiple layers further by reconfiguring the physical gallery space into an echo of itself. It soon becomes clear that the four walls of the gallery are not the exterior walls, but new walls erected just for this show. A peek behind the drywall edge uncovers a kind of ghost show, where several more images sit in near complete darkness, hemmed in by the new walls. There is something pleasantly absurd about shimmying down the narrow side alley, trying to get a glimpse of these works, only to find that it is both too dark and the space too constrained to really see them. A “No Vacancy” image is really only visible from the front window of the gallery, a smart back and forth between welcoming and rejecting. The recalibration of the space is almost like one of Blalock’s jittered images, where reality is slightly mediated and slippery.

The danger with work like this is that it falls too far into its own navel gazing, photography about photography world and bores us with its self importance. I think Blalock cleverly avoids this trap by bringing in a touch of subtle ridiculousness to lighten the mood. Blalock’s photograph of a man cradling a slab of green astroturf like a guitar, his image sliced and diced into nuanced strips and layers, delivers a message about the synthetic nature of imagery, while also adding an element of odd comedy. All in, this is a show full of unlikely ideas and constant interference, forcing us to reconsider what we can expect from a photograph.

Collector’s POV: The prints in this show range in price from $2500 to $8000 (based on size), with several of the works already sold. Blalock’s work has little secondary market history at this point, so gallery retail remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.

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JTF (just the facts): Published in 2023 by Nazraeli Press (here). Debossed linen hardback with dust jacket, 11 x 13 inches, 76 pages, with 57 duotone photographs. Includes an essay ... Read on.

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