Friday, November 5, 2010

MOMA 'New Photography 2010'

­ On view at the MOMA is 'New Photography 2010,' an annual series combining work by Alex Prager, Roe Ethridge, Elad Lassry and Amanda Ross-Ho.

Gloss and bright colors pervade the space as do an assortment of subjects, methods and mediums. The exhibit's wide range of subject material includes red-lipsticked women drinking tall boys, a bowl of moldy peaches, and a manipulated 1984 Drew Barrymore movie poster. Strangely enough the variance of subject does not detract from the show but allows for the stimulation of questions surrounding the purpose and methods of photography.

One of Ethridge's photos, which really isn't his photo, is a pixellated runway shot of a model in a traditional Chanel suit taken directly from the New York Times website. Another photo is a scarf transposed with another image of a plate taken directly from Bed, Bath and Beyond's website. These two photos raise the question of authorship as well as what recontextualizing an image does to its meaning.

Lassry's photos are very pretty and colorful, and they all seem to have a lighthearted element. He has photos of shitake mushrooms and green peppers, fresh beets in front of rectangular mirrors and pretty nail polishes placed atop little green pedestals. Some images are layered with patterns or blurred, but all are framed in their dominating hue. This ends up composing a rainbow succession of frames along the wall.

The presence of cinema and fashion photography in Alex Prager's portion of the exhibit is clear. Her photos depict highly made up women in wigs and retro-style clothing. A film showing a red-headed woman in a teal dress frantically running around an apartment building, eventually jumping out of it, gives her work the melodrama the photos beg to convey.

Amanda Ross-Ho's work lacks the hyperbolic color scream of the other artists but instead has a more personal approach. Ross-Ho brings her artistic process into the show by incorporating items from her studio into her pieces. 'Expose for the Shadows, Develop for the Highlights' is a wooden board displaying, among several objects, a triangular drawing instrument, a page from a photography textbook and photos taken by her parents.

Overall, I'd say It's easy to get lost in the eye candy-- the shine, vivacity of colors and variance of subject matter, but the assortment of subject material is worth noting due to the question it raises. In an annual exhibit dedicated to the year's thought and development in photography, the question should be asked: What is the modern photo's subject and what are its limitations?


  1. You were right to include more than a couple descriptions of works, given the mass amount of work in this show! Good job picking out works that each say something different about modern and contemporary photography. I like that you pose some questions to the reader throughout this review about the purpose of modern photography, though it might be helpful to answer some of the questions for us in reaction to the show. Or was this show too expansive to make any immediate conclusions? Either would be helpful to know. Your review has clear structure with lots of detailed descriptions which, for such a big show, is more interesting than just a list of all the various kinds of work.

  2. I agree with Liz. You did a great job of picking specific highlights of the show and describing them in great detail. I was easily able to recall or picture exactly what the art you were speaking of would look like. I also like that you questioned the intent of the works and spoke of their glossy commercial nature. I additionally enjoyed the fact that you left us with a question about the work. I think this was a good way to engage the viewer to see the show or to go see the show.