04 June 2009

New York Photo Festival

I checked out the New York Photo Festival last month in DUMBO. The neighborhood itself, becoming a focus for photography galleries and studios, made for a worthwhile destination. In fact, the weather was so nice I saw more photographers spread out on the grass alongside the river than inside the exhibition spaces.

ANTI-Plano at the Latin American Pavilion, an exhibition of work by two Ecuadorian artists curated by Katya Cazar, was one of the more interesting displays. Geovanny Verdezoto creates panoramic urban scenes by stitching together multiple images. This is especially challenging to do effectively, as most of his photographs include several people at varying distances from the camera. Also included were a series of photographs of x-rayed luggage by Sara Roitman, revealing odd but familiar items, such as the ghostly silhouette of a teddy bear.

Another curated show that caught my attention was (Super)Natural organized by LUCI, a New York-based curatorial collective. The exhibit featured artists “whose work engages with and reimagines the idea of nature and natural phenomena.” In other words, it was a collection of landscape photographs, but not your typical landscape photographs. The diversity of presentations around this common theme made for some unexpected juxtapositions.

Less inspiring, however, was the main William Ewing-curated show “All Over the Place!” The opening statement acknowledged that, given the “unruly nature” and “messy diversity” of photography today, the curator had decided against attempting to impose an organizing principle. Instead, he simply opted to show what he found exciting at the moment and to highlight work, new and old, he felt was underappreciated. The collection included some outstanding photographers and unique work, such as Philipp Schaerer’s fictitious architecture, but its success was in spite of, rather than because of, the curator’s haphazard vision.

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