Winkleman Gallery is pleased to present “American ReConstruction,” a group exhibition of new photography by emerging artists Matthew Albanese, Jowhara AlSaud, Jeremy Kost, Mark Lyon, Curtis Mann, and Cara Phillips. Organized by New York collector Michael Hoeh, “American ReConstruction” features artists who construct photography-based work through an array of pre- and post-printing considerations or processes.
“Reconstruction” is the act of rebuilding an object or structure that had been destroyed. Hence, the post-Civil War years in US history were called “The Era of Reconstruction.” In contemporary America, we are witnessing a new need to rebuild a wide series of systems: our economy, healthcare system, political system, consumer confidence, and in the new age of iPads and Facebook even our methods of communication and visual language. In this exhibition, Hoeh has brought together a group of artists whose work all touch upon these issues. Some of the artists’ work is created by physically altering the raw material of photography or its subject matter—by scratching (AlSaud), bleaching (Mann), or directly building detailed models (Albanese) for the making of their images. Others work by innately focusing their camera gaze on society’s impulse to rebuild or reconstruct our appearances (Phillips), personas (Kost), or environments (Lyon).
For his “Strange Worlds” series, Matthew Albanese first creates highly detailed models in his studio from surprising simple materials. By then maximizing the capacity of photographic techniques (such as scale, depth of field, white balance and lighting), he produces highly emotive landscape photographs from these models in which telltale signs of the artifice compete with the astonishing illusions. Jowhara AlSaud, whose “Out of Line” series deals with the language of censorship as applied to photographic images in her native Saudi Arabia (where it’s not uncommon to find skirts lengthened or sleeves crudely added with black markers in magazines or blurred out faces on billboards), etches line drawings directly onto her film and prints her photographs in a traditional darkroom process. By eliminating the faces and skin of her chosen subjects, she circumvents the cultural taboos of photography even as she illustrates how malleable the medium is.
Whether the subjects of Jeremy Kost’s Polaroid collages are drag queens, club kids, or barely clothed young men, his work always presents a remarkable intimate portrait of someone attempting to present themselves in a fabulous light. The paradox of the subtle insecurities Kost’s portraits of extreme extroverts reveal is echoed by the complex, chaotic structure of his collages in which glamor mingles with reality. Mark Lyon’s “Landscapes for the People” series focus on the use of romanticized wallpaper landscape photographs found in everyday environments. For Lyon, these photographic murals seem to serve a psychological function, given their potentially intimidating or banal locations, like dental rooms and Laundromats, as they allow the viewer an alternate mindset to nerve racking procedures or the mundane activities of everyday life.
Also currently on view at the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Curtis Mann’s photography begins with found images from online sources and photo-sharing websites that he orders as printed photographs and distorts with household bleach, which he uses to erase and obscure portions of their compositions. His latest series begins with photographs of the Golan Heights found on flickr. Even more abstract than his previous work, these images reference Rorschach test blotches. Titled “foldings” (referencing how they are made [being folded in half]), they also reference the two sides of the conflict in the Golan Heights and who is the rightful owner of this stretch of land. The two series included by Cara Phillips operate from opposite ends of the reality spectrum on personal beauty. In the “Singular Beauty” series of cosmetic surgeon’s offices, Phillips captures the emotional significance of the chairs, beds, machines, and tools through which so many seek happiness. For “Ultraviolet Beauties,” she takes head-on portraits using ultraviolet light (a tool plastic surgeon) use to show patients the damage underneath the surface of their skin. This filter allows us to see what beyond the capacity of the human eye, deeper than what a normal camera lens can record.
SPECIAL EVENT On Saturday, June 5, 2010, Cara Philips will set up her UV studio at the gallery and offer collectors the opportunity to commission an Ultraviolet portrait. Please call or email for cost information and to reserve your spot if you would like to participate.
Michael Hoeh is a member of the Guggenheim Photo Acquisition Committee, the Co-Chairman of Aperture Foundation’s 2010 Winter Auction, and was interviewed in the January 2010 issue of Art+Auction as one of the “New Guard” of contemporary art collectors. Hoeh is also the author of the art blog www.ModernArtObsession.com, which is listed by The Metropolitan Museum, The Walker Art Center, and The London Times as a top online resource for contemporary art. He has been widely quoted in the press, such as the Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian Magazine, Black & White Magazine, and The Brooklyn Rail about the state of the contemporary art market. Hoeh has also guest lectured or opened his collection to graduate classes at the SVA, FIT, UCONN, and The New School.