Photography in the 2015 Volta NY Show

As you move away from the commercial scrum of the Armory Show and on to some of the satellite fairs, gatherings, and installations that dotted the city during this busy week of art, it quickly becomes clear that the overall mood changes – the prepackaged hustle starts to fall away, revealing a calmer brand of art engagement. This year’s Volta NY show transplanted itself to Pier 90, right next door to its gargantuan neighbor/partner, but still managed to retain some of its casual authenticity. As a fair of solo booths, it encourages more measured thinking by design, while also allowing for some more guerilla exposure of lesser known galleries and artists.

From a photographic point of view, the work on view at Volta this year was both refreshingly new and undeniably part of the larger contemporary landscape of the medium – while many of the names and venues were different, the underlying themes and conceptual investigations were generally ones we’ve seen before or have been actively wrestling with of late. Wandering these booths felt like filling in gaps/categories, adding names to existing lists of those using rephotography, playing with three dimensionality, or reworking archival material. Those operating outside these taxonomies felt like more intrepid explorers.

The slideshow below tracks my path through the fair, with each image captioned by a linked gallery name, an artist/photographer name, some additional description/commentary, and a price where appropriate. (A few galleries were showing work recently on view here in New York, and I have generally left these out to avoid duplication.)

Galeri Zilberman (here): Applying a traditional floral tile pattern to an everyday gas tank, recasting industrial as cultural. Burçak Bingöl, priced at $3500.

PDX Contemporary Art (here): These images of shiny crumpled aluminum foil masks (with blank holes for the eyes and mouth) move back and forth between textural abstraction and stunted emotional recognition. Arnold J. Kemp, priced at $6000.

This Is No Fantasy (here): Australian photographer Pertina Hicks brings an undercurrent of dissonance to her seemingly innocent still lives. Tiny bird skulls decorate this girl’s fingers, the mood delicate and fragile but subtly dark. Priced at $5000.

Mariane Ibrahim Gallery (here): This installation of circular photographs by Maïmouna Guerresi mimics the turning motion of a spinning dervish, placing the female at the center of a spiritual flow that travels across the wall. From afar, the piece looks like a black constellation; up close, your eye tracks the woman’s face up and down as it revolves amid the curved black cloth. My initial reaction was that the glossy, circular images were gimmicky, but the underlying concept of the elemental spinning/curving motion of the variously oriented images was surprisingly compelling. A set of 16 images, priced at $32000.

widmertheodoridis (here): Another example of recent rephotography/photocopy experimentation, investigating iteration, additive layering, and transparency. Jim Verburg, priced at $4500.

Charlie Smith London (here): Tom Butler’s overpainted 19th century prints interrupt and reinterpret found images. This group portrait is variously undermined, from flowers and hair swoops that cover faces, to pixels and dots that hover around heads like swarms of bees. Priced at $2500.

Lynch Tham (here): This diptych uses a Richard Prince work as its initial source material. The image (on the artist’s computer screen) was rephotographed 10 separate times, each layer adding iterative telescoping distortions. Quisqueya Henriquez, priced at $12500.

GE Galeria (here): The psychedelic colors of the Venus Grotto at the Linderhof Palace, where man-made stalactites and stalagmites recreate a surreal environment of artificial nature. Sergio Belinchón, priced at $6000.

Shulamit Gallery (here): From a few paces away, this work looks like an intricate Islamic pattern; up close, the design is revealed to be a digital collage of two repeated/mirrored images – Paris Hilton in a bikini top and a female suicide bomber in a headscarf. It’s a quietly powerful combination of media. Sanaz Mazinani, priced at $6500.

Galerie Anita Beckers (here): Christiane Feser’s works mix meticulously hand crafted paper models/sculptures with layers of rephotography, creating all over geometries that are full of visual play. Shadows, folds, and edges are alternately three dimensional and flat, with incisions and constructions that defy easy recognition. Priced at $3700.

SIM Galeria (here): Rodrigo Torres’ sculptural works bring three dimensionality back to satellite imagery, using layers of photographs to build up (or carve down) physical topographies. This work was less literal than many on view, turning the imagery into a blurred, spinning vortex. Sold in groups of 4, priced at $7000.

Arnold J. Kemp, Burçak Bingöl, Christiane Feser, Jim Verburg, Maïmouna Guerresi, Petrina Hicks, Quisqueya Henríquez, Rodrigo Torres, Sanaz Mazinani, Sergio Belinchón, Tom Butler, Charlie Smith London, Galeri Zilberman, Galerie Anita Beckers, GE Galería, Lynch Tham, Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, PDX Contemporary Art, Shulamit Gallery, SIM Galeria, This Is No Fantasy, widmertheodoridis, Volta NY

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