Underappreciated Photos Re-Emerge for a Second Life in Philly
6 contemporary Philadelphia artists fill a gallery with bizarre, seemingly auspicious photography.
HL053, 2016, Gideon Barnett. Toner on bond paper, magnets, acrylic, 36 x 24 in. All images courtesy Studio LHOOQ
Six contemporary artists from Philadelphia gather to focus on a series of perplexing images, questioning their meaning in the larger narrative of history. The show, After Now, at Philadelphia's University of the Arts' Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, examines photography that has fallen out of the zeigeist—and some that never established its place within it. It ponders the value of a stockpile of imagery in an ever-growing collection of images worldwide. What kinds of old pictures will rise to the surface, and which will experience a comeback?
With a diverse range of images that tip a hat to genres of picture-taking—stock, street, and ID photos are all represented—the exhibit takes a retrospective view of images that may have previously been forgotten. In the show's description, After Now is described as grouping of "artists [who] transcend the first Image Generation that appropriated print technology (Sherman, Prince, Kruger et al.) together information trolled from the internet and more complex relationships involving private semiotic meanings.”
Affording a prominent focus to Gideon Barnett, a Philadelphia-based artist with a Master’s of Fine Arts from Yale University, the show finds its stride examining a buried past. In Barnett's most recent piece in the show, the artist concentrates on old microfilm and found photos, randomly discovered and holding seemingly no definitive historical significance.
Isabel Lederman, a researcher for the gallery, talks of the details of Barnett's process of working through library archives and drawing out strange, unrelated photos. She shares the artist's development process: "After curating a selection of images, [Barnett] sends them to print on a wide format Xerox that is connected to the film reader. The images print in rich, heavy black inks, a drastic alteration from what he sees on the [archival] microfilm. His focus of working in archives and libraries provokes the current state of institutional values supported by the NEA and NEH and how a society not only accesses information but also the varying degrees to which institutional values may or may not reflect those of the broader culture."
After Now shows at Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery until February 28, 2016. To find out more about the show and artists, here.