group show 48
Over the past ten years, FlakPhoto and Humble Arts Foundation have developed unique curatorial voices, at times, solidifying a pronounced, identifiable aesthetic. Our motivations are similar: to showcase challenging photography and to bring that work to a worldwide audience. And though we’ve championed many of the same imagemakers our visual “preferences” frequently reside in different circles.
I’ve heard artists, curators, and editors alike describe particular images as “a FlakPhoto” and some of my closest colleagues consistently forward images my way with a note that they look like “a Humble photo” (and I often disagree.) While there’s no clear definition of WTF that actually means, it’s ghosted our respective practices, at times solidifying a curatorial aesthetic and, most importantly, challenged us to push our respective styles into new creative directions. Take, for example, FlakPhoto’s Looking at the Land and Making Pictures of People or even Humble’s own F*cked Up. We’ve supported each other for years, so it felt like time to make something together. Which is where Winter Pictures comes in.
Every year, Andy Adams has called on the FlakPhoto Network to submit “Winter Pictures” that could be used seasonally to color his communications while promoting the credited photographers. In 2012, he staged an online group show drawn from these submissions. We used one of those images (courtesy photographer Manolo Espaliu) to illustrate this show’s call for work. Based on his interest in the subject, and since winter is a universal experience ripe with pictorial possibility, I invited Andy to co-curate this expansive open call, challenging the two of us to find synergies in our curatorial impulses. What follows is a selection of 100 images from around the world – ranging from photographers we’d never seen before, to familiar names like Karl Baden and Doug and Mike Starn, whose images, by association, might help those lesser known to rise to the top.
Like many of Humble’s single-image-per-photographer exhibitions, Winter Pictures seeks to draw connections between single images from different photographers, independent of the relationship to their long-term projects or larger bodies of work. For example, aside from its obvious seasonal theme, does Jay Seawell’s anxiety-ridden photograph of toy soldiers fighting in a Washington Mall snowstorm share a cold despair with Paula McCartney’s flash-blasted abstraction of snowflakes at night? Can we find a conversation between Andre Viking's vernacular, light leaked vacation snapshot and Andy Mattern's typologies of Minnesotan snow chunk accumulations? Does a photograph need to include snow to be considered “winter themed”? (Despite so many images in this show fitting that bill, the answer is obvious.) And why are so many photographers consistently drawn to making pictures of buried cars, snow drifts and minimalist white-on-white landscapes?
So many questions –we’d rather not answer them. Instead, let’s look and listen! That’s right, we asked our contributing photographers to suggest songs that connote the season these pictures depict. Go ahead and listen to our Spotify playlist while you look at these pictures. With a few more weeks of winter to go, we hope you find some warmth in these images of a cold, cold world.
Jon Feinstein | Co-Founder, Humble Arts Foundation