Inessential views of art and photography.
Today is the last day to visit Photography is Magic at Aperture Foundation, NYC. The exhibition has been curated by Charlotte Cotton. It features work by almost 50 photographers and is the result of an open call around the idea of photography as a magical form.
Talbot H Fox defined photography as the pencil of nature. Natural images were imprinting themselves and remain durable. No human action was involved. Was it magic? The belief that photographs steal your soul has been ingrained in the collective imaginary for centuries now. For some cultures such a belief belong to the past, while for others this idea still resonates with the present. Such is the case of Roviana people in the Solomon Islands. For them, photographs are a way to keep in touch with the soul.
From its onset photography has been interpreted both as an art as well as a mere technology. For centuries researchers have used photography to expand the knowledge of their own fields. The malleability of the photographic medium comes to the fore when one reviews how it has been purposed for inquiries in psychology , anthropology, physics, etc. The range of work featured in Photography is Magic seems to pay homage to the freedom associated with the medium.
These artists actively play with the medium’s heritage—re-animating and re-contextualizing its alchemical properties—to render ideas about its contemporary material value. They are astutely aware of the viewers’ perceptions and trains of thought, grounded in our shared context of an ever-expanding image world. They invite us to pay attention to the thriving possibility of photography as an experimental platform, rich with materiality and visual sleight of hand.
Charlotte Cotton, curator and writer
Lucy Wood’s work fascinated me. There were other pieces that explored the sculptural character of photography and that walk the line between two and three dimensional artwork, however I found “Corner” very appealing because of its simplicity. The bare, minimal colours (or lack thereof!?!), the strong contrast, sharp edges and basic but functional form work really well together. All these features directed my eyes to the centre and made fall into a whole. The piece is formally very dynamic and conceptually too as it comments on light, movement and the materiality of photography as a medium.
The beauty of the photography is that it has been reinventing itself since the beginning because it was supposed to be something technical but it really never was that technical and then it was thought it was art but it is really not art either. The strength of the medium is to allow us making out of it whatever we want it to be. Photography is Magic seems to have been curated with this idea in mind also.
Although this post arrives almost too late to invite you to go and see the work in person, the exhibition catalogue is a delight that expands the number of featured photographers as well as the context and rationale of their work. The next post will be dedicated to it!