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Walead Beshty, The Maker and The Model


Wallspace Gallery
619 West 27th Street, ground floor, 212-594-9478
September 7 - October 14, 2006
Reception: Thursday, September 7, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Beshty’s categorically slippery practice investigates the historical conditions of the photographic medium and its contemporary implications. He has exploited the conventions of a multitude of photographic genres with the intention of, in his words, “creating a mode of production that is neither a cynical re-celebration of the dismantling of photographic meaning, nor an anodyne and amnesiatic revelry in photographic spectacle.” Beshty’s photographic works seem to pit the medium against itself, often to humorous or uncanny effect, exploiting photography’s formal qualities and historical contradictions to activate and politicize the seemingly neutral elements of image making. As curator Dominic Molon writes, “(in d)rawing on a myriad, often contradicting precedents in the history of photography-from the detached and programmatic methodology of photoconceptualists such as Dan Graham and Ed Ruscha, to more pictorially oriented figures such as Stephen Shore and Francis Frith-(Beshty’s) work constitutes a crisis of how the subject is constructed in the process of image making.”

For The Maker and The Model, Beshty has re-imagined a forgotten series of investigations into photographic materialism from early modernism. Citing the interrelations of Le Corbusier, Man Ray, Moholy-Nagy and Charlotte Perriand as the show’s “libidinal substructure,” Beshty will transform the gallery into a kind of Modernist Hall of Mirrors, performing a series of photographic actions (doubling, copying, recontextualizing) that repeatedly explore the relationship between “material” and “picture.”

He has produced a series of large-scale hand-processed Photograms, firmly restricting the production materials to gelatin silver paper, light, and photographic chemistry. The result is a series of photographs where the material acts as both the referent and the object, both negative and substrate. Complementing these are photographic drawings made with light and swirls of photographic chemistry, presented in oak frames designed by the artist and produced from raw lumber; a re-imagining of Man Ray’s iconic “New York” sculpture; Sheets of unexposed, x-rayed film enlarged to wall size; and Le Corbusier’s grand LC2 club chairs remade from piping sourced from Home Depot, inflecting the modernist icon with a clunky populism.
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