Friday, March 16, 2018

Stephen Shore in Chelsea

As a body of work, I don’t think the Stephen Shore exhibition at 303 Gallery is cohesive enough; several of the photographs deviate in both composition and subject matter. What these nine 64”x 48” prints by Stephen Shore do have in common is the uniform size and banal content, depicted in a very close proximity and at high resolution. Most of these photos include some manmade element like paper bags or cigarette butts, but several pieces depict purely natural elements like river water or tree branches. While most of the photos are looking towards the ground, one image of tree branches is shot at a frontal angle, raising the question of how this work is related.

If you are making photographs nowadays, when everyone is at license to take a picture of street trash and post it on Instagram in the name of some vague poetic impulse, then your work is challenged to do something more than just add to the existing noise. In a few singular pieces, the use of the closeup removes context and abstracts the image like a painting. After giving time to the initially unfamiliar textures and colors, it reveals to the viewer yellow traffic paint and dirt on asphalt. Shore, through several individual photographs rather than the entire body of work, prove photography’s enduring power as a tool to help contemporary viewers forget what we are looking at so that it becomes visible to us again.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with everything stated in your first paragraph- I couldn't stop thinking that his photographs look exactly like every art student's Instagram. Because his subject matter was so blatantly unoriginal, it was hard for me to find meaning in his work. I thought it would be interesting to have a sentence or two comparing this exhibition to the retrospective at the MoMA as it's interesting that the two shows are happening simultaneously. While I thought you had an effective conclusion, I think the review could benefit from a more comprehensive opening sentence.