Earlier this month I visited Houston with Edward Robinson, associate curator of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department, to install the show Assembly: Eight Emerging Southern California Photographers as part of the thirteenth FotoFest Biennial of Photography and Photo-related Art. FotoFest is a month-long festival that rounds up over a hundred art galleries and other viable spaces to host exhibitions, portfolio reviews, workshops, an auction, film screenings, and curatorial dialogues and symposia. Assembly is one of four exhibits by guest curators that fit this year’s theme of contemporary U.S. photography.
Natasha Egan, associate director and curator at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, organized The Road to Nowhere?, examining photography that documents or personally comments on the turmoil of war and economy that has crept into the first decade of the twenty-first century.
Greg Stimac, Concord, Vermont (Mowing the Lawn),” 2006
Aaron Schuman, photographer, editor, writer, and curator, saw parallels between the keen eye of Walker Evans, who photographed the United States of the early twentieth century, and those of contemporary photographers working today. His exhibit for FotoFest, Whatever was Splendid: New American Photographs, is partially named for a quote by Lincoln Kirtstein, from his essay written for the significant 1938 Walker Evans monograph American Photographs.
RJ Shaughnessy, La Brea Ave., 2008
Gilbert Vicario, curator of the Des Moines Art Center, whose show spans three spaces, created Medianation: Performing for the Screen, exploring the ways in which a selection of contemporary artists have manipulated traditional modes of communication and media such as television, internet, radio, film, photography, and even the U.S. postal service, to express their artistic vision.
Emilio Chapela, Digital Degradation, 2009
Our exhibit, Assembly, focuses on eight photographers who have developed their practice within the last ten years here in Los Angeles. As curator Edward Robinson remarks in the essay accompanying the show, “the cultural history of Southern California has been one of ongoing dialogue between utopian ideals and apocalyptic apprehension—the boosterism of the ‘end of the road’ state, heralded for its promise and abundance, in tension with concerns about the fragility of its natural and built environment.” Take a look at how this is manifested by the artists included in Assembly, below. Thanks to a generous gift provided by LACMA’s Photographic Arts Council, each of these photographers are now represented in the museum’s permanent collection.
Nicole Belle, Untitled, 2008
Nicole Belle’s series, Apartment, features photographs of moments of absurd choreographed action and unusual elements of her home that happily convolute the typical and normative trappings of domestic life.
Matthew Brandt, Lake Hollywood CA 3, 2008
Among other unconventional photographic processes used, Matthew Brandt’s photographs of lakes and reservoirs are soaked in water Brandt collects from the location pictured. After weeks or more, the prints settle into a brilliant and beautiful spectrum of decay.
Peter Holzhauer, Balloons, 2008
Peter Holzhauer’s approach is that of a visual anthropologist, surveying the city and countryside for signs of what has become of us—the accidental, the presence of well-intentioned but unfortunate urban planning, and the misplacement and even defacement of the natural setting.
Whitney Hubbs, photos from the series Day for Night, 2008-2009
Whitney Hubbs captures moments from her life, creating a world of memories so precious that she has remarked they feel stolen.
Matt Lipps, Untitled (bedroom), 2008
Matt Lipps’ photographs shown in Assembly are from a series that marries archival images of his childhood home with striking cutouts of National Park vistas by Ansel Adams. The images, which serve as family portraits to Lipps, are further unified by swaths of hues inspired by Benjamin Moore color schemes.
Joey Lehman Morris, Black Mountain Detachment: Two Nights, From Waxing to Fully Stated, 2008
Joey Lehman Morris has been photographing the Southern Californian landscape and creating objects that are oftentimes as sculptural as they are photographic, using the photographic medium and its presentation to introduce the viewer to new ways of viewing both natural and man-altered environments.
Asha Schechter, Picture 04, 2009
Asha Schechter composes the images in Assembly with his own open-ended curation. Using imagery collected from a variety of sources, Schechter arranges groupings of photographs against colored backgrounds that emphasize the physicality of the photographic print, while exploring the nostalgia and meaning of making images and presupposing the widespread future of digital influence on photography.
Augusta Wood, family to go through, 2006
Augusta Wood focuses her attention on images that include phrases collected and meditated upon as well as images from her past that she brings to life by projecting them on space where the images originated.