Milcho Manchevski, Five Drops of Dream @Miyako Yoshinaga

JTF (just the facts): A total of 16 color works, mounted and unframed, and hung against white walls in the main gallery space and the smaller project room in the back. Each work is made up of 5 photographs arranged and printed together as one single unit. All of the works are archival pigment prints, made in 2012 from negatives taken between 1999 and 2010. Each of the prints is sized 10×43 and is available in an edition of 5. (Installation shots at right.)

Comments/Context: When a recognized filmmaker exhibits still photographs, I think we all come with the expectation that these images will be “cinematic” in some identifiable way, perhaps in their use of motion, their exploitation of camera angles or their building of narrative arcs. But Macedonian filmmaker Milcho Manchevski’s globe trotting street photographs consistently turn on formal and structural elements, abstracting scenes and compositions from everyday life into two dimensional lines, geometries, and blocks of color. His sense for the cinematic comes through in their presentation, where the individual photographs are grouped into sets of 5 and then sequenced into what he calls “strings”, resulting in finished works that combine abstraction with narrative progression, visual echo, repetition, and formal interplay.

One series begins with an image of a dog seen in profile, looking to the right. This is followed by an outstretched arm pointing to the left, and then a triangular shadow pointing back to the right. The next image finds another angular storefront shadow pointing to the left, and the last image caputres a stone filled excavation site, once again shaped into a triangular form pointing to the left. The sequence of found shapes moves us back and forth, almost like the turning of heads at a tennis match. A second series begins with an American flag, followed by an orange metal railing flanking patterns of cement being poured and flattened. The third image shows a shadowy reflected silhouette with edge of an American flag stuck on the window, next to a nude dappled in shadow. The last image brings back more crowd control railings, this time in silver. The series seems to fold back on itself, with multiple refrains of visual tunes heard earlier. A third series plays with linear directions: the horizontal stripe on a bus, followed by the vertical stripes of fish, followed by the vertical frames of windows, followed by the diagonals of the sidewalk, followed by the repeated verticals of architecture in a reflected window. Once again, Manchevski’s groupings add an additional layer of connection between seemingly unrelated images.

Each of these works is almost like a puzzle to be unraveled or a rebus to be decoded, and slower, more deliberate looking uncovers more progressive harmonies and repetitions, especially using shadows and window reflections. Or maybe each is some form of photographic sonata, taking primary and secondary themes through introduction, exposition, development, recapitulation, and coda. Whatever the underlying structure, Manchevski’s strings being movement to his formal street photographs, adding a sense of playful, symbiotic interconnection to his found abstractions.

Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced at $1800 each. Manchevski’s work has not yet found its way to the secondary markets, so gallery retail is likely the only option for those collectors interested in following up.

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JTF (just the facts): Published in 2022 by Palm* Studios (here). Embossed hardcover with tipped-in back cover image, 22 x 27 cm, 128 pages, with 61 color photographs and an ... Read on.

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