“Logical Pictures” Exhibition

511 Gallery

poster for “Logical Pictures” Exhibition

This event has ended.

511 Gallery presents Logical Pictures, an exhibition of landscape-based photographs by ten artists that question the space– or what the land artist Robert Smithson called the back-and-forthness– between a real site and its representation in a non-site, in this case, as a photographic art object on the wall of a gallery. The logical picture is one that becomes separated by abstraction from its referent, which is, the original, physical landscape itself, yet stands for the site it represents.

Sally Apfelbaum’s Untitled (New York State) (1998) is of a forest in Saratoga Springs, New York, where the artist was a resident at Yaddo. Apfelbam made a single large-format negative exposed in four different directions– north, south, east, and west of one specific site in the forest. The large format camera–a walnut wood field camera– plus the layering of the multiple exposures, and the choice of aperture and distance, in Apfelbaum’s hands results in an image print in which both near and far objects in the landscape achieve an almost equal sharpness of detail which we know cannot be realized by the human eye, and which creates an even more intriguing space between the non-site print and its referent, the physical site in the upstate forest.

The photograph reveals a cloudy sky visible in the distance through trees, while the sources of light, which cast shadows on the foreground and middle-ground of the pictorial space, seem not realistically possible. On some trees, such as those along the right edge of the pictorial space, the overlaid multi-direction exposures are noticeable, but in most of the composition they are seamlessly blended with the foliage. The end result conveys a sense of mystery and allure. The photograph contains the artist’s intentional subjective rendering of a natural landscape that extends beyond the conventional boundaries of picture-taking into picture-making. The connection between the photograph and the site exists in a space between the two, which, as viewers, we enter repeatedly to recognize the consistency and completeness of Apfelbaum’s logical picture.

Robert Miller’s Park Avenue (2012) is a black and white photograph of an urban landscape, but in specific detail. A young woman wearing a white sweater, striped dress, and sunglasses, stands on the median at Park Avenue and 54th Street, waiting for the light to change so that she can cross the street. To her right is a 16-feet-tall stone sculpture, Grand Step Totem, by Niki de Saint Phalle. The young woman is looking in its direction, and for a moment we imagine her focus is on the artwork. But as any New Yorker would recognize immediately, she is probably looking at the oncoming traffic on the western lanes of Park Avenue to see if there is a car-length space through which she can perhaps jaywalk. To her left is a traffic light almost as tall as the sculpture. The background is what was the seventeen-story Atlantic Bank building at 405 Park Avenue– as we write, now being demolished in preparation for a skyscraper that will span from 54th to 55th St. on the avenue, to be completed by the third quarter of 2023. Two taxis and a delivery truck– all three with commercial signage visible on their roofs and left side, respectively, bring text down to street level and contribute to the complexity of the image, especially as they seem small-scale compared to the flat black-and-white facade of the architectural form that bleeds off three of the four edges of the photograph. Even the two-story high sculpture and the tall, thin street signal are dwarfed by the building as a background landscape of its own. Unlike the other logical pictures in the exhibition, Park Avenue is neither posed, staged, nor ever conceptualized in any manner beyond the instant visualization by the artist. Miller is a street photographer, who keeps his 35mm camera with him as he wanders through familiar and unfamiliar landscapes, walking, seeing, stopping and shooting, and walking onward, all within very few moments. His photographs have a familiarity to them, showing moments in black and white that feel like memories, not only to New Yorkers, but to anyone living in a busy American city. Here the photographer is a bystander, objectively showing what is in front of him, which narrows the gap between the site and the non-site, but does not render the two as exactly the same. In a momentary pause, Miller captures a scene that will never exist again– indeed here the physical site itself will be gone– but one that retains the timelessness of memory, with all its accuracies and inaccuracies as a non-site image framed and on a wall.

The works of this show generate conversation on the space between a landscape site and its representational image while raising questions about the boundaries of photography, from chance to calculation. Works in the exhibition by Chris Bunney, Gregory Crewdson, Maxime Du Camp, Anna Ferrer, Lucy Levene, Lilo Raymond, Carole Reiff, and Eric Tomberlin, all link differing approaches to taking and making photographs of physical sites that posit the space that connects site to non-site, legitimizing both in the process.



from September 06, 2022 to November 19, 2022

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