A pared-down version of the online exhibition, the show includes photography and video work curated by Humble's co-founder Jon Feinstein. Art, literature, and pop culture have a legacy of positing sci-fi fantasies of the world to come, which often contain parallels to the uncertainties of the current social and political climate. This exhibition approaches these present day premonitions with a similarly precarious gaze. Some artists offer optimistic, utopian angles, others look at the present-future with a dystopian pessimism, and many offer a blurry hybrid. With work that ranges from eerily lit portraits to animated gifs and analog collage, the exhibition hinges on its curatorial ambiguity.
Over the past decade, there's been a resurged pop-fascination with GIFs. While much of this has been couched in millennial-targeted apps like GIPHY, and brand powerhouses like Mr. Gif, there's a gamut of art photographers using the medium to reimagine photography's potential, and to explore a range of cultural and political ideas. J. Wesley Brown's 2011 series Inversions, for example, is a sequence of self-described "inanimate animated GIFS" made from still photographs, presented online, that gradually shift through multiple frames and manifestations. While much of today's popular GIF culture focuses on quick, meme-y image bursts, Brown's are slowed down, compelling viewers to rethink how they experience and understand imagery -- both on screens and in physical form.
While John Keatley is most widely known for his commercial photography and advertising campaigns, shooting everyone from Anthony Hopkins to Macklemore with punchy, studio lit, conceptually-driven portraiture, his latest personal series Uniform treads on darker territory. Using some of the same commercial aesthetics and devices of his campaign work, the Seattle-based photographer aims to create conversation on how many Americans perceive, and often distance themselves from the soldiers that make up the United States military.
From 2008 to 2015, Caitlin Teal Price photographed strangers sunbathing on New York City beaches under stark, immaculate rays. Shot from above with her medium format camera, her subjects lay back with eyes closed, presumably unaware of the photographer's presence. They exist for viewers to ogle and observe, to draw our own conclusions about their personal stories, to look without permission. Price recently published a monograph of the series, Stranger Lives with Capricious Books, which piqued our interest to learn more about her process and metaphors at work.
Photography has a history of debate over its flawed potential to represent the truth. From disputes around Robert Capa's iconic 1936 photograph The Falling Soldier, to '80s and '90s consciously staged tableaus, the 2015 revoking of the World Photo Competition prize due to digital manipulation, and countless other controversies, questioning the medium as an accurate communicator has now become commonplace, and almost boring. This past year, the proliferation of click-bait #fakenews sites, and even inconsistencies in the mainstream media have been at the center of this conversation, with photographs and memes playing a central role towards enhancing those narratives. And in late January, 2017, Kellyanne Conway caused a stir with her Orwellian reference to "Alternative Facts." Which brings us to our latest open call.
For Group Show #52: Alternative Facts, we're interested in seeing how photographers play with truth in a so-called "post-fact" world. We're intentionally leaving this vague and open ended - please interpret as you see fit. (And while you're at it, check out our current exhibition: Future Isms)