'A about bauhaus...harm neu tues'
A photography show curated by Matthew Brandt
“The immediate instruments are two: the motionless camera and the printed word.” Writer James Agee about his collaboration with photographer Walker Evans on Let us Now Praise Famous Men, first published in 1939.
Painting and sculpture preceded the so-called “Gutenberg Revolution” much as book publishing preceded the birth of photography. But it was during the regime of Modernism that the latter two—printed words and printed pictures—came to be inextricably linked, if also, existentially opposed. Does the photograph appearing in a book or magazine illustrate the adjacent text? Or does the text explicate the photograph? (Hint: It can’t be both). The 1960’s-1970’s era detante that was Conceptual Art, with its “photo/text” paradigm, offered a false reconciliation that only repressed a fundamental conflict between visual art and literature that dates back to time immemorial. This then is the premise of A about bauhaus … harm neu tues, a group show of photographs in which some textual element is embedded inside each and every picture itself.
The exhibition is conceived and arranged by the artist and photographer Mathew Brandt. In addition to the curator, participating artists include: Gil Blank, Sam Davis, Ed Heckerman, Peter Holzhauer, Alex Klein, Eve Fowler, Manya Fox, Les Krims, Louise Lawler, Lisa Ohlweiler, Luciano Perna , Maha Saab, Phel Steinmetz, Dean Samashima, Melanie Willhide and Augusta Wood. Far from providing a fresh dispensation for the juxtaposition of art and language, A about bauhaus … harm neu tues argues that the appearance and re-appearance of language in visual art (in this case the genre of art photography) continues to feel somewhat disconcerting even as it becomes increasingly familiar. All the more so because the curator has gathered up a variety of related photographs by artists of different generations and sometimes opposed aesthetic and ideological positions. Thus, the images on view here all throw light on the same art/language paradox but each from its own perspective.
March 23, 2010