Daniel Faria Gallery is pleased to present Photography is Hard, featuring works by Steven Beckly, Nadia Belerique, Shannon Bool, Chris Curreri and Elizabeth Zvonar.
This exhibition brings together works that bear evidence of their making: a photograph is rephotographed, a camera part ends up in the frame, a subject is illuminated by an artificial flash, collaged images reveal their artifice through their construction. But in an exhibition that is seemingly about the mechanics of a medium, the body presses in. The body haunts. In the works on view, bodies merge with their surroundings: the studio, public architecture, domestic interiors. Sometimes fleshy and sometimes devoid of flesh entirely, they are reflections and shadows and outlines, and they are also devices through which to see other things.
In The Rescue, Steven Beckly photographs his partner, imagining the camera as an extension of his hand and touch. The resulting portrait is of a body in two parts. A profile—an ear and shoulder catching the light—is reflected in a mirror. A hand appears outside of the mirror but the viewer understands that the hand belongs to the same figure as the reflection. A crystal on a chain extends the boundaries of the picture frame into the viewer’s space so that crystal, hand, and reflection seem to exist in separate—yet connected—realities, confusing image and object, figure and ground, two dimensions and three.
There is a shadow of a figure reflected in the glass of Nadia Belerique’s In The Belly of a Cat Part 2 or Run, exactly where the viewer might now be standing looking at it. Maybe it has combined with their own shape. That shadow hovers like a giant over a worn image of an interior scene, scaled to a child’s perspective. In the separation between glass and image, other objects cast more shadows. As in Beckly’s portrait, there is a confusion here between what is real (as in, can we touch it?) and what is an image, so entangled are the two that the question seems irrelevant.
In a new series of collages, Shannon Bool replaces the figures from exhibitions by fashion houses—Dior, Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent or Alaïa—with urban landscapes, some fictional (the Blade Runner film set), but most real (buildings in Hong Kong, Midtown New York, Tokyo, Chicago). Literally stitched together, these two bodies—architectural and mannequin— lay atop one another, the small space between the two creating moments of disconnect.
In Chris Curreri’s triptych, Model in the Sculptor’s Studio the body is like clay, formed by the things it comes into contact with, in this case a hollow tube which seems to bore through it. Much like the camera lens, this hollow tube creates a new visual reality depending on its relationship to the subject. Set in the studio—a space of experimentation and testing—we see a body that is simultaneously a moving, living subject (note the dirt on the bottom of his foot) and a still, realized sculpture.
Elizabeth Zvonar’s Photography is Hard features three arms supporting the drawn image of a woman’s face, like an elongated neck or three Doric columns. The woman’s face is poised to look through a camera lens but her gaze doesn’t line up. She looks out, seemingly, at nothing, her focus controlled by a contrary set of hands. The woman is Pauline Tennant, later known as Lady Rumbold: actress, poet, bohemian, aristocrat. The drawing, titled A Girl (Pauline Tennant), c. 1945, is by Lucian Freud, who was said to have been transfixed by her beauty and who rendered the details of her face with meticulous care. Other works and other faces are not present but implied, such as Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Your gaze hits the side of my face) from 1981.
“Photography is hard precisely because the form and the meaning will inevitably shift,” explains Zvonar, but it’s that very shifting of form and meaning that the artists in this exhibition employ in order to create incongruous and curious relationships between bodies and spaces, both imagined and real.