One of the reasons that I take photographs is because they enable me to express thoughts that words just can't capture. I recently participated in the #fivedayblackandwhitechallenge on Facebook, whereby I posted a different black and white photograph for five days. Initially, I posted photos from my archives that belonged to completed bodies of work. But the last two came from some collaborative book projects I did with my nephew, and which only very few people have seen to date. Why this shift? A boy from my kids' school committed suicide recently, an event that is unspeakably sad. I gravitated towards these two pictures because they express for me something about that event that I couldn't say any other way. And it seemed important to say it.
Here are two more FotoFocus shows that I found memorable: "The Evolution of Photo Bookmaking" at the Mercantile Library downtown. This show, curated by author and artist Nancy Howell-Koehler, was a look at the art of the photographic artist's book from the 1970's-2012. It included books that were both commercially and hand-bound, and which ranged from serious to humorous in content. Books by Bea Nettles, Les Krims, Diana Duncan Holmes and Timothy Riordan, Cal Kowal, Nancy Rexroth and Duane Michals were on view, along with those of many others.
Part of what made this show so great was that it was housed in the Mercantile Library. The books were, for the most part, laid out on tables in the center of the library, which made them both accessible and secure.
The walls of the space were of course lined with library books, which made me feel like the exhibition was right at home. Viewers could page through almost all of the books themselves, which does not always happen at artist's books exhibitions. A real treat!
Another exhibition that was the perfect marriage of location and art was "Light Castings" at Voltage Gallery. Located on the second floor of a contemporary furniture store, this gallery featured photographic installations by Jordan Tate and Anthony Pearson. Although their work is very different, both artists pose questions about the role that reproducible processes play in today's world. Because of this, their work coexisted comfortably throughout the space.
Although a wall separates the gallery space from the store, having to pass through part of the store in order to get to the exhibition set the viewer up for a certain kind of visual experience that did not disappoint.