For the past few years, The Seattle Art Fair and Out Of Sight have been bringing a mix of blue-chip artdom and challenging creative brilliance to a town too commonly associated with fog and technology. The Seattle Art Fair, founded by Paul Allen, is a usual hit-or-miss collection of international modern and contemporary art galleries, not unlike Pulse, or Art Basel. More radical in its approach, Out Of Sight, feels less like an art fair (while work is for sale), and more like a Northwest on-ramp to the Whitney Biennial, with a rotating roster of curators, this year including S. Surface, Greg Lundgren, Justen Waterhouse and Benedict Heywood, as well as exhibition caretaker Scott Lawrimore.
We spent some time wading through it all, and have gathered some of our favorite photography-based highlights. The Seattle Art Fair will be up through Sunday, August 6th, and Out Of Sight will be up through August 27th.
Out Of Sight:
Eli Craven's Screen Lovers is a series of images pulled from Anne Billson's 1988 book of the same title. The original images are romantic and sexually charged. Craven repositions, folds, and collages them in oddly shaped frames in an effort to "see them come together, touch lips, make love, whatever comes next".
Natalie Krick makes images of her mother, her sister and herself, impersonating one another in various ways that mimic tropes of feminine beauty from popular glamour magazines. These images aren't tableaux, they don't resseble "storytelling" style narratives, and instead feel like visual abstractions or pastiches of the clichés they represent. "My photographs are fueled by my conflicting attraction and aversion to images of glamorous women..." she writes, "I photograph to portray beauty as artificial, flawed, threatening, psychological, seductive and garish."
Adrien Leavitt describes Queer Feelings as a "photographic exploration of queerness and our intimate, complex relationship with our bodies, both physically and emotionally. It is an examination of vulnerability, blurring the space between private and public, possessing a new reality where our desire, mutability, and openness are able to gaze back at us."
Lee writes: "Seattle-based visual artist + GIF journalist. cameras are my tool of choice, whether i’m making stills or GIFs. i am intensely fascinated by consumer culture, the perception of time, + the way electronics shape our lives. a significant portion of my work (both commercial + personal) is produced w/ early 2000s digital consumer cameras."
C. Davida Ingram
C. Davida Ingram is an award-winning artist who is passionate about beauty and social justice. Her primary muses are race, gender and social relationships. Ingram’s impulse is to imagine tactics to get free–not further prescribing Otherness. With this in mind, she uses unorthodox mediums–Craigs List ads, hypnosis, drones, cell phone videos among other things to reshape what is possible in her own identification with being a black queer woman. Davida writes:
"When I Rub the Dead Skin of the Thing against Me I Find I am Soft, Brown and Human is a short experimental video involving a woman with two raccoon pelts. The piece disarmingly reframes a familiar racial epithet of calling black people coons while also pointing to the real human existence that never quite aligns with white supremacy. The piece uses a visual sumptuousness and serenity to get at Otherness without relying so heavily on jargon."
Serrah Russell uses collage as an exploration of the photographic image and its ability to evoke memory, emotion and association. 100 Days of Collage, some of which is included in Out Of Sight is a series of a collage-a-day made for 100 days following the results of the 2016 US presidential election.
I traveled north to find a place where the sun’s rays could not escape my lens. I sat next to others with agendas to learn, play, and to be the last great explorer. All I knew is I was going to experience something. I wanted to see what the North Pole was and what it looked like, I knew it could not appear to be like the cartoon image I had in my head.
I saw blue whales, polar bears and walrus. I saw many artists, pens, cameras, string out, trying to formulate an idea in a place beyond comprehension. I saw evidence of death, loss, change and people who wanted the impossible. I saw settlements and huts that were filled with things shipped from thousands of miles away.
I returned north blinking adjusting to the darkness befuddled feeling, like I had just had a very long dream one where proximity to a gun was mandatory, where women performed every role, where blue and grey overtook every other color, where binoculars where an extension of my eyes, where all meals were provided with a bell, where buildings and settlements appeared out of the thin clouds, where the ocean is a mirror. This is where the work began thumbing through an experience that each day is further from my body.
Seattle Art Fair
Hassan Hijjaj @ Projects-Gallery
Heavily influenced by the club, hip-hop, and reggae scenes of London as well as by his North African heritage, Hassan Hajjaj is a self-taught and thoroughly versatile artist whose work includes portraiture, installation, performance, fashion, and interior design, including furniture made from recycled utilitarian objects from North Africa, such as upturned Coca-Cola crates as stools and aluminum cans turned into lamps. Turning to photography in the late 80s, Hajjaj is a master portraitist, taking studio portraits of friends, musicians, and artists, as well as strangers from the streets of Marrakech, often wearing clothes designed by the artist. These colorful and engaging portraits combine the visual vocabulary of contemporary fashion photography and pop art, as well as the studio photography of African artist Malick Sidibe, in an intelligent commentary on the influences of tradition in the interpretations of high and low branding and the effects of global capitalism.
Evan Trine @ Roberts & Tilton
Evan Trine's new body of work investigates the systematic and serial nature of photography, presenting the landscape, which seen through its rigor of repetition, form and cultural coding, is a construction. A result of three years of research which began with a printing accident, the current process entails the artist manually manipulating printer cartridges to create paths of familiar images in unnatural, unfamiliar colorways.
Mickalene Thomas @ Kavi Gupta
New York-based Mickalene Thomas is best known for her elaborate paintings composed of rhinestones, acrylic and enamel. Inspired by various sources that rage from the 19th century Hudson River School to Manet, Matisse and Bearden, she continues to explore notions ot beauty from a contemporary perspective infused with the more recent influences or popular culture and pop art. Her Polaroids show her striking range in color and composition.
Joe Rudko @ PDX Contemporary AND Greg Kucera
Joe Rudko is quickly becoming one of the most pivotal figures within the Pacific Northwest emerging art and photography community. His collages of found vernacular photographs, sourced from thrift stores, antique shops, snapshot collectors and, most recently, from a family archive discovered in abandoned shed in Washington State, turn anonymous, expired histories into sculptural monuments. Building on traditions ranging from the Dadaists of the early 20th century to the 1970's and early 1980's Pictures Generation, and even the recent work of Penelope Umbrico, Rudko's work makes appropriation exciting again. Like Umbrico, Rudko goes beyond simply re-contextualizing of found imagery. He tears up recurring tropes in family snapshots - clouds, water, sunsets and shadows - and reframes them to unveil a collective experience of viewing and valuing the world.
Ji Zhou @ Klein Sun Gallery
Born in 1970 in Beijing, China, Ji Zhou graduated from the printmaking department at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing in 1994, and later received a MFA from the Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Paris in 2005.
Ji Zhou explores fragmented and whole images, comprised of images of objects and installations that are not what they always appear to be. In Ji's series Civilized Landscape, he explores illusory landscapes created by mankind: using maps and books, he sculpts mountains and skyscrapers in carefully placed installations before photographing the compositions. His most recent series of work consists of photographs taken of a variety of scenes within a landscape during different times of a day. Through this illustration of the world, Ji Zhou constructs an understanding of the world around us.
Sadie Barnette @ Charlie James Gallery
Sadie Barnette is from Oakland, CA. She earned her BFA from CalArts and her MFA from the University of California, San Diego.
"Whether working in drawing, photography or large-scale installations, I turn my attention toward unexpected locations of identity construction. My interest in minimalism and conceptualism informs the way I look at my family, our history, subculture coding, celebration and resistance. I engage a hybrid aesthetic of minimalism and density, using text, glitter and found objects to demonstrate the necessity for poetry and abstraction in urban life and the power of the personal as political. My work relishes in 'the everyday' but is also tethered to the other-worldly; a science fiction, an escape, and the space to imagine bigger possibilities."
Eirik Johnson and Daniel Carrillo @ G. Gibson Gallery
With Unfolded, photographic artists Daniel Carrillo and Eirik Johnson have worked in direct collaboration to create a series of full and hal plate daguerreotypes depicting the geometric forms of unfolded origami structures and paper airplanes. Both fathers of young children, Johnson and Carrillo have used their collaboration to explore childhood obsession and playful creativity.