Deconstruction/Reconstruction: The Transformation of Photographic Information into Metaphor
Organized by Shelley Rice, guest curator
“The artists represented in this exhibition have taken their cues from Conceptual Art: they use the photographic medium, not as an end in itself, but as a means for expressing a less tangible vision whose scope transcends the information contained within the images themselves… . Individual images are transformed once they are placed within the larger context of these art works: whereas the relationship between a ‘straight,’ single photographic print and the tangible reality it describes is relatively direct, the works in this exhibition imply both a more complex and more ambiguous relationship between image and reality, between information and its perception.”
Shelley Rice, Deconstruction/Reconstruction catalogue.
“Deconstruction/Reconstruction…presents new ways of using photographic images to depict modern life. The nine artists whose work is included in this exhibition work with multiple rather than single photographic imagery. Each artist ‘deconstructs” photographic images by removing them from their normal visual contexts and primary roles as sources of information; they become, instead, fragments of visions, symbols of the artists’ personal explorations. The artists then ‘reconstruct’ these photographic symbols into larger frameworks which both alter and expand upon the meaning inherent in the individual photographs.
Ray Metzker’s experimentations in the 1960’s laid much of the groundwork for this type of photography. Metzker is interested in recording and manipulating the visual patterns, the tonal contrasts and the formal interrelationships that he finds as he roams the city streets, making them into composite photographs that reflect the multiplicity and vitality of urban experience. Barbara crane superimposes individual photographs on structural grids. The grids function as rhythmic designs to orchestrate the otherwise unrelated images into sequences of a unified nature. Andrea Kovacs pieces together 3 ½ x 4 ½ “ kodacolor prints so that individual photographs are dematerialized and function as building blocks in an emotionally charged network of color and shapes. Thus, time—collective moments—is viewed simultaneously. In Firsthand, Ceclile Abish cuts and assembles 28 photographic views in four sequences of seven each. The subject matter is constant: two images of a house in New Jersey. Manipulated, the photographs are not longer tow specific views of a specific house but are composite images that undermine the realism of these documentary records. Bonnie Gordon visually integrates words (like ‘eye,’ ‘retina,’ ‘blink’) with images (like the frontal view of a make figure) in a way that is usually reserved for the dissemination of scientific information. By disassociating the words and images form their former meanings, Gordon reminds us that they, liker her pictures, are symbolic projections of the human mind. In Sylvia, Ellen Berger’s photographic book, words and images found in newspapers and magazines, are rearranged into a non-linear narrative depicting the heroine’s odyssey through her inner life, wherein she confronts various persona. Dara Birnbaum edits footage from popular color TV shows and forms them into durational sequences that alter the context—and thus undermine the meaning—of the most commonplace and widespread TV metaphors. The Vision Stations team, Haas Murphy and Jerry Jones, examines the mythology and functions of visual ‘display” in our society to create an art that can be integrated directly into the urban environment.”
-From The New Museum Press Release