Morgan Lehman Gallery is pleased to present Dark Day, an exhibition of new photographs by David S. Allee.
Allee derived the name of this series, and its theme, from the manner in which he captured the images. In much of his earlier work, he photographed locations at night with intense artificial light and extremely long exposures (up to an hour), catching unreal landscapes in a nether time somewhere between night and day. For Dark Day, he did the opposite. The images for this series were shot on bright sunny days, using tiny apertures and the highest shutter speeds possible, with exposures reaching 1/10,000th of a second. This work captures the texture of the sun’s brightest reflections by letting as little light as possible into the camera, enabling us to see something we wouldn’t normally be able to see—a kind of dog-whistle light that leaves everything else in the photographs underexposed and dark.
In this series, the light re-imagines many different structures and places in the cityscape. In 4:02PM, the sun’s intense reflection on an aboveground subway car filled with commuters re-imagines this everyday scene with an unusual opacity and unexpected starkness. Additionally, a number of the images are of glass office buildings, which capture and provide the bursts of blinding light that move and flash across the skyline throughout a sunny day. The light doesn’t penetrate them, nor does it illuminate- for our purposes anyway- the veiled things that go on inside the subjects here; such places as the World Financial Center, Trump International Hotel, and the headquarters of Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.
We can be forgiven for thinking that these are troubled times—or, as these images might suggest, dark days. And yet ultimately these images, like all photographs, are of light. Sunlight is both the subject and the base material. It takes eight minutes and nineteen seconds for sunlight to reach earth and we perceive it, in its various incarnations, in nanoseconds. With the sun itself comprising nearly 99.9 percent of the solar system’s total mass, perhaps it should be no surprise then, as these photographs reveal, that it’s possible to find light in the darkness.
Allee received an MFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts where he was granted the David Ruttenberg Prize for Outstanding Photography. His work has been published extensively in the New Yorker, New York Magazine and Metropolis Magazine. His work has been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art and The Tampa Museum of Art, and is in the permanent collections of the Bronx Museum of the Arts and the Knoxville Museum of Art among others.