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Monday, January 23, 2006

Photography Monday

Seydou KeitaFor some reason, I’ve seen a lot of interesting photography and photography-related items in the last few days.

Daylight Magazine, the journal of documentary photography published by the Daylight Community Arts Foundation, is recently out with its fourth issue which focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Featuring work by nine photographers and a short topical essay, the issue provides an unvarnished take on a complex situation with no easy answers.

The View from the Edge of the Universe explains why photography is the most rational (and predictable) segment of the art market.

Michael Rips had an interesting piece in yesterday's Times on the photography of Seydou Keïta (above left) that addresses the issues of posthumous prints, artistic intentionality, contemporary practices of interpretation, and the art market—an unholy quartet if I've ever seen one.

James Deavin, Untitled (Rink)I wandered into Jen Bekman the other day and had a hard time walking out without a couple prints by one of Beckman’s latest finds, the New York-based British photographer James Deavin. Deavin’s face-mounted photographs of empty sports venues—an ice hockey rink, an indoor cricket pitch, a climbing wall, and a velodrome—are unnervingly seductive. (These low resolution reproductions simply don’t do the work justice.) It’s impossible not to fall in love with the milky surface of his abstracted ice rink, broken in its corners by an empty net and a section of Plexiglas safety board (at right). James Deavin, Untitled (Velodrome)The romance of the wooden track and play of colors in Deavin’s velodrome (at left) provide visual patterns and harmonies that make me want to walk right into the pictorial space and wander through this magical place.

Available in sizes of both 30x38 (an edition of 8) and 16x19 (an edition of 10), these pieces are almost irresistible. I did find myself wondering, though, if I would respect them as much after the infatuation wears off as I did on our first encounter. Not sure that I would be able to answer “yes,” I left without taking the credit card out of my wallet.

And speaking of impulse buys, I just about did it a second time over the weekend when I stopped into my neighborhood branch library to return a few books. Seeing signs posted for an artist’s self-hung exhibition in the library’s basement, I decided to take the stairs down to have a look. Was I ever stunned. I hadn’t expected to see such a large body of interesting work so sensitively installed in a library basement. (Who would have?) But what a pleasant surprise.

Billy Parrott’s exhibition, Objects Like Memories, presents works from at least three different series that all somehow relate to the formation of memory. Using such interesting materials as obsolete children’s encyclopedias, pocket watch casings, found photographs, and layers of photographs printed on glass plates, Parrott’s work creates a nostalgia for an age that passed away before most people living today were born. Of special interest to me was a series of works that sat somewhat outside the emotional tenor of most pieces on display. Six disturbing photographic portrait collages of dolls prove to be simultaneously attractive and repulsive—creating a charged dynamic that the original objects never could.

Update: One late addition comes in this morning—MAN on a private series of photographs that Sally Mann has been creating in recent years.

Daylight Magazine, issue 4, is available for $10 from the foundation’s website.

James Deavin’s work is on view at Jen Bekman (6 Spring Street) through February 4, 2006.

Billy Parrott’s exhibition Objects Like Memories is open Wednesday, Saturdays, and by appointment at the Tompkins Square Library (331 E. 10th St.) through January 28, 2006.



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