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The shock of the photo


I just saw the First Woodmere Triennial of Contemporary Photography and thought it was a) a good show; and b) a great idea — that is, a great idea to have a regularly scheduled, regional round-up in photography. Let’s get one started for painting. sculpture and video, too, how about?

Here’s something I’ve been mulling over. Woodmere Curator Doug Paschall who curated the show told me he put Charmaine Caire’s large color prints, made with set-ups of toys and backdrops, in a separate gallery space so that their big, bright affect didn’t beat up on the quieter work in the show (I’m paraphrasing, he had a more curatorial way of stating the case). (image above is one of Caire’s works) The result is that it almost looks like Caire got more wall space than the other artists. But Paschall says not. All the artists were given the same amount of space.


I find Caire’s photo set-ups less shocking than Larry Fink’s work which can strike with visceral impact. (shown left, Fink’s “Washington, D.C.” 1975)

Maybe the shock in Fink’s photographs is quiet and less obtrusive in a group show than the bold, staginess and didactic messaging in Caire’s works.

Anyway, the separation of one artist’s work in a group exhibit can be read as either a gulag-ing or a special treatment. That’s just the way it is. I don’t know if this is a problem or not but I raise it as an issue.