JTF (just the facts): A total of 10 large scale color photographs, framed in white and unmatted, and hung against grey walls in the main gallery space and the back office area. All of the works are digital chromogenic prints on archival paper, made in 2013 and 2014. The prints (from the ongoing series Coming Soon) are available in three sizes: 24×34 (in editions of 10), 36×50 (in editions of 6), and 48×68 (in editions of 3); there are 9 medium sized prints and 1 large print on display. (Installation shots below.)
Comments/Context: For most photographers, one of the basic tenets of street photography is that with the right mindset, the sidewalk can become a stage set, where pedestrians and passersby are transformed into inadvertent actors in split second scenes that come and go with the flow of the foot traffic. Across the history of the medium, we’ve repeatedly seen photographers use crosswalks, storefronts, and street corners as the settings for their wry observations and found dramas, the urban fabric providing both a rich backdrop and a potential location for unlikely or clever juxtapositions.
Natan Dvir’s bold color photographs build on this long tradition, but leverage a newfound 21st century architectural form – the boarded over construction site covered in larger than life visual advertising. With the constant flux of changing retail locations in a place like New York, these monumental placeholders/billboards have become commonplace, each one decorated with fashionable giants peering down at wandering liliputians. The possibilities for contrast and caricature are many.
Dvir’s pictures generally opt for one of two compsotional strategies – the visual echo or the sly pairing. A gargantuan Fendi bag in fire engine red hovers over a pedestrian with a similarly red shopping bag, a verdant green jungle scene sits behind a row of man made planters, and a man carries an playfully oversized stuffed animal under the watchful gaze of a seductive Cartier jaguar. In each case, the unexpected similarity provides a parallel that connects reality with fiction.
In other cases, Dvir’s combinations of foreground and background are more like opposites, the merging of the two providing opportunities for indirect commentary. Happy connected hipsters loom behind a collection of isolated smokers, sun kissed models lounge behind an umbrella on a dreary snowy day, a construction worker emerges from underneath a glamorous Fendi skirt (with a sanitation worker emptying the garbage can nearby), and a man is caught standing between the legs of a monumental Desigual model. Ridiculousness segues into something darker when the aspirations and the reality clash with real force.
There is a simplicity to the structure of Dvir’s project that makes these pictures approachable and easily enjoyed – we’ve all walked by these strikingly massive advertisements and yet he has turned their ubiquity and obviousness into something more conceptually rich. In places like New York, we’re trapped and inundated by commerce and all its messages, and that onslaught has provided Dvir with plenty of visual fodder for knowing inversion and subtle mockery.
Collector’s POV: The prints in this show are priced based on size, with the 36×50 prints at $3500 and the 48×68 print at $5000. Dvir’s work has little secondary market history, so gallery retail remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.