The flesh is a full, profuse safari. Its substance is meatier then mere muscle and skin. Beneath all the layers, connective tissues coerce a structure of exploration for what is deeper; what lies inside the human body. Such things are made of concepts and explorations. In Bill Durgin’s Figure as Ground, up through October 29th at New York’s Station Independent Projects, there live ideas and realizations of what the body, and photography, are capable of. Parts and tools are bigger than themselves and in the hands of Durgin they become advanced discoveries. There is a consumption of colors and qualities, hypnotic façades. Men and women are not obliterated—they are repurposed.
Exhibition review by Efrem Zelony-Mindell
The grips of misdirection besiege the fine constructions of Durgin. Gender is a gesture; in his work it is superseded by collage and construction. Tools of craft are catered in the complex act of simplifying his compositions. The body has consumed Durgin for a great portion of his life, as has photography. He builds stuff, suited for various forms of consumption, reflection, and visual literacy. There is a balancing benefit of reward and work for viewers to engage. Can color erect an adaptive narrative? Not without realizing that all the answers are in the frames. There is a push of difference between looking at something as opposed to taking the time to see what you realize in it. Durgin’s work is personal, not solely for himself. There is no outside of the frame, inside is where the challenge of fantasy and focus call attention.
Looking at Durgin’s photos it’s possible to feel where your eyes go. Gravity is a habit broken by the sight and form of his work. The tip of understanding is only on the tongue if you can feel a reaction to something within. Perception is only part of reality. Implements of photography obscure the parts of nudity to make a mosaic that grapple the desire of understanding. Everything is brought together by building and contortion, coupled with a great deal of improvisation. Mixed in with all these choices and trying, the recognition of the body’s potential is inaugurated. The unrecognizable is still somehow familiar. The capacity to develop into something in the future is cast by the endorsements of the past. Durgin plays in all these places.
Oftentimes opposites touch. Sexualized and desexualized, right on the line of attraction and repulsion. All things are balanced on a thin border. That boundary is danced and sculpturally configured. And all the while the photographs push towards the side, the center, up and down. Parts fold into one another layering intimacy and touch, magnetic and peculiar. The world is a stage. Durgin’s work falls somewhere in the realm of hunter and explorer. The strange fruits of newly formed shapes and faces flood the fury of delight and detail in the show. Limbs and torsos, concocted in new ways trigger realizations that outside understanding there is new room, always more, always new ideas. Figure Ground pushes against complacency.