On Display: February 6 – March 30
Opening Reception: Friday, February 6th 6-9pm
Throughout February and March, Newspace Center for Photography is pleased to display the 2015 Themed Exhibition – Radical Color. Juried by Jon Feinstein, the exhibition contains work by the following selection of contemporary artist:
Nando Alvarez-Perez | Pascal Amoyel |Lorne Blythe | Carson Brown
Brad Carlile | Jesse Chun | Joseph Desler Costa | Melissa Eder
Suzanne Engelberg | AnnieLaurie Erickson | Melanie Flood | Jeremy Haik
Alice Hargrave | Justin Hodges | Hollis Johnson | Tomoko Kawai | Tarrah Krajnak
Jessica Labatte | Karine Laval | Marci LeBrun | John MacLean
Michael Marcelle | Azikiwe Mohammed | Rebecca Najdowski
Vinicius Nakashima | Ryan Oskin | Alexis Pike | Christopher Rodriguez
Matthew Swarts | Sadie Wechsler | Casey Wilson | David Wolf
Radical Color: A Continuous Black Hole
Color photography and its relationship to the established art world have endured a charged and tenuous past. Nearly 50 years ago, William Eggleston, Helen Levitt, William Christenberry, Stephen Shore, and Joel Sternfeld, propelled by the support of John Szarkowski and the Museum of Modern Art, helped encourage a larger embrace of color photography within the greater dialogue of fine art. While early 20th century photographers like Edward Steichen made significant moves to explore color’s experimental possibilities, Shore’s generation may have been the first to push it into wider acceptance beyond its traditional place as a commercial application. Their approach was largely descriptive, using color as a means of representing the world beyond black and white’s limited abilities.
Color’s next generation, which included Jeff Wall, Rineke Dijkstra, Thomas Ruff and many others working in the late 1980’s onward, introduced a new level of excitement, one whose engagement with art history and conceptual art helped further enable a dialogue with the fine art world. In many cases these photographers challenged earlier generations’ use of color as factual description, and photography’s ability to accurately represent any notion of truth.
Using these two generations as a reference point, Radical Color looks to how contemporary art photographers have expanded upon these previous conversations. While pioneers like Shore may have used color as a means of achieving pure description, and the following generation challenged its truthfulness, the photographers in this exhibition are approaching color with an understanding of, and desire to build upon and run with its limitations. Their methods incorporate a range of techniques, both analogue and digital, but are linked by the influence of rapid technological shifts, a culture of non-stop online sharing, and an environment in which black and white photography no longer dominates.
Radical Color might appear to be a swarm of saturation and messy hues, an inward reference to photographic process, or an extension of “New Formalism” which has consistently riled critics on and offline for the past few years with its heightened attention to photographic process. Jessica Labatte and Justin Hodges’ work represent opposite extremes of this – Labatte’s with its abstracted manipulation of Photoshop tools, and Hodges, with its grotesque, large-scale photographic sculpture. Like many artists in this exhibition, their work is part of an ongoing question about the defining characteristics of the medium.
Color’s digital qualities have a unique role throughout much of Radical Color, as a new means for artificially unveiling the unexplainable, exploring uncertainty, distance, and escapism. In some cases these associations are deeply personal, and at times political or historical, while others address this with playful humor and wit. For example, Matthew Swarts’ deeply personal work uses digital layers of color to make sense of his past relationship, and as a metaphor for the ambiguities of memory and fading intimacy. Azikiwe Mohammed uses appropriated images from the Internet to create fictional, planetary landscapes, emphasizing his feelings of alienation as an African American from the canon of American history. Sadie Weschler uses a range of digital tools to manipulate natural landscapes, reflecting on how the land has been continuously shifted by human presence over centuries of human development.
The photographers included in Radical Color consistently use photography to demonstrate a more consciously subjective understanding of the world around them than preceding generations. Whether they are using film, digital processes or appropriating existing images, they are linked by a nebulous, continuously shifting period in photography’s history informed by constant sharing of images and ideas.
– Jon Feinstein
Maddie Crum, “Meet The Contemporary Photographers Experimenting With ‘Radical Color’,” The Huffington Post, May 25 2015.