No Greater Fiction @BOSI Contemporary

JTF (just the facts): A group show containing 18 works by 7 artists/photographers, variously framed and matted, and hung against white walls in the main gallery space and the stairway area. The show was curated by Ágnes Berecz. A catalog of the exhibit has been published by the gallery.

The following artists/photographers have been included in the exhibit, with the number of works on view and their details as background:

  • Manal Abu-Shaheen: 2 archival pigment prints, 2013 and 2014, sized 40×60 and 16×24, in editions of 5+2AP
  • Peter Baker: 3 archival fiber inkjet prints, 2011, 2013, and 2014, each sized 32×48, in editions of 5
  • Felix R. Cid: 3 digital pigment prints mounted on aluminum, 2012 and 2013, sized 30×45, 43×68, and 64×93, in editions of 5+2AP and 7+2AP
  • Sarah Muehlbauer: 3 pigment prints, 2013 and 2014, each sized 24×30, in editions of 5
  • Yorgos Prinos: 2 archival inkjet prints, 2014, sized 50×30 and 32×17, in editions of 5+2AP
  • Hrvoje Slovenc: 1 4×5 color film negative, pigment ink print triptych, mounted on black plexiglas, 2010, sized 30×97, in an editions of 3+2AP, and 1 4×5 black and white film negative, pigment ink print diptych, mounted on aluminum, placed in two 6-7 inch deep boxes, 2012, sized 40×30 each, in an edition of 5
  • Mónika Sziládi: 1 c-print face mounted on Plexiglas, 2005, sized 30×20, in an edition of 10,and 2 archival inkjet prints, 2010/2014, sized 33×41 and 25×44, in editions of 5

(Installation shots below.)

Comments/Context: One of the most disruptive photographic byproducts of the combination of the digital revolution and a fully networked and connected environment is that our old ways of structuring and defining the world around us are crumbling before our eyes. A generation or two ago, there were nearly inviolable bright lines between genres, mediums, and artistic approaches that kept photographers in discrete buckets, and hard and fast rules that separated found and staged, “real” and “imagined”. While versions of these categories and definitions still exist in today’s contemporary mindset, the boundaries are much more fluid and permeable than ever before, and for those just beginning their artistic careers, the earlier distinctions may seem puzzlingly rigid, outdated, and perhaps just inapplicable at this point. We’re no longer in a world of this or that, black or white, but instead in a continuum of gradations between poles, where combinations and interconnections are both natural and assumed, not to be shunned and avoided.

This comfort with definitional uncertainty comes through clearly in this group show of work by recent Yale MFA grads (from 2010 to 2012). While the approaches, processes, and ultimate intentions of the artists included are markedly different, all of the pictures find their way to a similar middle ground of subtle strangeness, where facts seem unreal and fictions seem plausible – these photographers have grown up with an alternate mix of soil between their toes, and their images reflect a consistent embrace of visual ambiguity that assumes that ambivalence is a given rather than a limit to be tested.

Poses and gestures provide the uncertain raw material for several of the photographers. Mónika Sziládi turns a party selfie into the Three Graces, a group of gathered hands on a silver urn into a ritual rite of passage, and the slight turn of a mannequin into an implication of modesty. Peter Baker opts for more open ended narratives – a DiCorcia-like group of sidewalk men (with a midair baseball), isolated figures in a blue corporate plaza, and a layered screen image of the Yankee Stadium jumbotron. And Yorgos Prinos embraces the subtle dance of the streets, where pedestrians and police officers offer surprisingly tender gestures, the movements captured with a touch of Paul Graham’s split second time dilation.

The other photographers in this show have turned their attentions to the ambiguities of environment. Hrvoje Slovenc contrasts the delicacy of perfectly displayed teacups and floral wallpaper with the roughly scratched back of man, while Sarah Muehlbauer leaves us wondering about a back alley dumpster with the ominous stenciled word “babies”. Manal Abu-Shaheen interweaves a sandy Beirut cityscape with a London fashion billboard, deftly playing with trompe l’oeil scale, while Felix R. Cid digitally multiplies the crowds at a bullfight and a foam dance club into impossible seething masses reminiscent of Salgado’s gold miners. In each case, the setting is and isn’t what it seems.

Shows like this one are a good reminder that the structural foundations of photography continue to quietly shift beneath us, with new aesthetic assumptions quickly becoming unspoken norms – we need to get used to recognizing skeptical uncertainty as a baseline on which we are building not as an outlier endpoint. This new ambiguity has a different kind of conceptual trajectory than we have seen before, and as our collective perspectives change, we need to actively recalibrate our critical thinking to ensure we aren’t misjudging a new wave of thinking by seeing it with old eyes.

Collector’s POV: The works in this show are priced as follows:

  • Manal Abu-Shaheen: $2800 and $5600
  • Peter Baker: $3200 and $3800
  • Felix R. Cid: $4000, $7000, and $12000
  • Sarah Muehlbauer: $2400 each
  • Yorgos Prinos: $3500 each
  • Hrvoje Slovenc: $6000 and $8700
  • Mónika Sziládi: $1600 and $2900

None of the included photographers has much in the way of secondary market history, so gallery retail remains the best option for those collectors interested in following up.

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Read more about: Felix R. Cid, Hrvoje Slovenc, Manal Abu-Shaheen, Mónika Sziládi, Peter Baker, Sarah Muehlbauer, Yorgos Prinos, BOSI Contemporary

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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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