Friday, January 21, 2011


By: Amanda Halkiotis
Currently, the Metropolitan Museum has two distinctive photography exhibits on display. First, Between Here and There: Passages in Contemporary Photography (ends February 21,2011), capturing themes of isolation and displacement. Featuring artists from around the world and works from the 1960s-early 2000s', it transcends still life photography and embraces art that comes from what appears to be everyday events while exposing its emotional standpoint, such as portraits of refugees or the contents of someone’s suitcase.

County Cork, Ireland, artist Richard Long. Image via The Richard Long Newsletter #63
In the 1967 photograph County Cork, Ireland, artist Richard Long (pictured above) captures the imprint of an imprint when an abandoned field has a crop circle-like pattern worn into the grass. Darkness of Doubling Shadows by Lothar Boumgarten a 1968 chromogenic print renders similar duality, casting shadows against shadows to create a concrete yet conceptual, ominous yet imaginative piece.

Encirclement by Valie Export. Image via Charim Gallery, Viena

Encirclement, a gelatin silver print from 1976, provides a more austere sense of isolation. Artist Valie Export photographs a woman lying on her side along the curve of a road. The minimalism from the everyday clothing and natural lighting, as well as the blank expression on the subject’s face, gets offset by the slight bend of the woman’s limp body--unassuming in this intimate, feminine pose. 
Almerisa, a young Bosnian refugee by Rineke Dijkstra. Image via Ellen Kern Fine Arts, NY
Jeff Wall, Rainfilled suitcase, 2001, Collection of the artist, © Jeff Wall
Between 1996-2002 Rineke Dijkstra photographed a young Bosnian refugee, Almerisa(pictured above) in all phases of her adolescence while Jeff Walls' photograph from 2001, Rain-Filled Suitcase, (pictured above) a transparency photo in a light box, offers a more static approach to displacement.

The second showing, Our Future Is In The Air: Photographs from the 1910s (ends April 10, 2011), showcases stunning black and white American and European photography embracing the avant-garde. Taking its title from a popular military aviation pamphlet, this exhibit communicates optimistic and apprehensive sides of the decade, the nostalgia of the fin de siècle as well as the excitement of the future. Offering everything from fashion photography and figure studies of dancers to snapshots of textile factories and child laborers, this exhibit really gives a sense of how the world thought and felt a hundred years ago.

God, a 1917 piece by Morton Schamberg Woman by Man Ray, a 1918
Corsets, Boulevard de Strasbourg by Eugene Atget
A new territory for photographers were set by two examples of startling realism. They include A Village Street in Auvergne taken in 1910 by Felix Thiollier and Corsets, Boulevard de Strasbourg by Eugene Atget in 1912. Thiollier’s picture shows townspeople of all ages standing in a street in their standard clothes, mostly dresses and trousers, with some of the children in bare feet, while Atget’s piece in a brash invasion of women’s modesty, features a window display of women’s undergarments.

Influenced by Marcel Duchamp, many artists used readymades in their photographs. God, a 1917 piece by Morton Schamberg with Elsa Von Freytag (pictured above)offers the viewer a drain pipe attached to a miter box, a concrete, candid image quintessential of the Dada movement. To similar effect, Woman by Man Ray, a 1918 (pictured above) gelatin silver print used two spherical metal reflectors with six clothespins descending down the center in a row, a risky expression of the female figure. While each exhibit focuses on an array of artists defined by past movements, both still reflect cultural significance applicable to persisting issues till this day.

For more information on both exhibits, go HERE and HERE respectively.

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