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Robin Graubard, “The Hold Up”

Participant Inc.
253 East Houston Street, 212-254-4334
East Village / Lower East Side
January 10 - February 14, 2010
Reception: Sunday, January 10, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

Participant Inc is pleased to present Robin Graubard, The Hold Up, a solo exhibition spanning over two decades of the artist’s photographic work. Geographically and temporally diverse, The Hold Up is comprised of several discrete yet overlapping groups of photographs (combinations of color and black & white prints), two slide shows, and a film. They are united by themes such as subculture, violence, displacement, criminality, and social/familial bonding as they occur on all extremes of the economic spectrum.

Structured as a complex installation of photographic vignettes, one first enters Crash Pad, a 35mm slide show of photographs taken in the 1980s—Times Square, Atlanta child murders, the girl band Scab, skinheads, punks, squats—revisiting a not-so-distant past that seems at once immediate and operatic in its detachment from the present. Segue to a recent series of black and white photos, from which the exhibition’s title is derived: Wall Street, the AIG building on the day of bonus hearings in Washington, Bernie Madoff. Intermingled are color photographs of grounds, gardens, a tennis court in disrepair—the home of a Hedge fund manager. The gestures and surroundings of outlaws rich and poor constitute both personal narrative and class analysis in Graubard’s work, as the artist appears to reside at once inside and outside the worlds of her subjects.

It has been said of one of her major photographic influences, Robert Frank, that he desired “to create what he deemed ‘a more sustained form of expression’ by rejecting the single, static image and embracing the narrative potential of photographic sequences.” (Robert Frank, Pace/MacGill Gallery, 2009) In Graubard’s work, images involving posing soldiers, crime scenes, the mafia, are rendered more pervasive by their adjacency to images of war and injury, hospitals and orphanages. Mothers, children, and teenagers populate most areas of Graubard’s work, particularly prominent in the digital slideshow, Sound of Waves. This composition of over one hundred photographs branches in several directions from a significant body of work made while the artist was living in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism.

Depicting the results of economic chaos, lawlessness, war, these images are interspersed with at times serene landscapes and pictures of a more directly autobiographical nature, including photos of Tassajara, a Zen center near Salinas, CA. Some of these photographs reappear in Graubard’s interlocking groups of photographs, shifting in time to represent glimmers of the artist’s life experience—teenage runaways, affluence and its opposites. These themes are manifested in works that belie their ‘photojournalistic’ tone to tell different stories, both personal and political.

Robin Graubard lives and works in New York City. Her exhibition history includes: “Noise: Young American Photography,” TH-Inside, Milan and Berlin (2007); Momenta Art, NY (2005); “Open Walls” curated by Matthew Higgs, White Columns, NYC (2005); “CBGB & OMFUG,” CB’s 313 Gallery, NYC (2005); “Indigestible Correctness I” curated by Rita Ackermann & Lizzi Bougatsos, Participant Inc., NYC (2004); “Rocks and Trees” curated by David Armstrong, Photographic Research Center, Boston, MA (2001), and “The Doll Hospital,” a solo exhibition at Anthology Film Archives, NYC (1998). She is a recipient of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation’s artists grant program and has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes. Her photographs have been published in The New York Times, Paris Match, The Guardian, Time, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, Die Welt, Berliner Morgenstern, The European, Unicef, International Rescue Committee, and others. She received a BFA from NYU film school in 1977. In 1976, Graubard produced, directed, and edited a film of The Talking Heads and The Ramones, also on view in The Hold Up.

Participant Inc’s exhibitions are made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

Participant Inc receives generous support from the Harriett Ames Charitable Trust; Bloomberg; The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston; Foundation 20 21; Peter Norton Family Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; an anonymous donor of the Community Foundation of Abilene; numerous individuals; and Materials for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs/NYC Department of Sanitation/NYC Department of Education.
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