group show 52
Photography and "fact" have a long, knotted history. From Matthew Brady's doctored Civil War photographs and disputes around Robert Capa's iconic 1936 photograph The Falling Soldier, to '80s and '90s consciously staged tableaus and the 2015 revoking of the World Photo Competition prize due to digital manipulation, questioning the medium as an accurate communicator is part of its lifeblood. Today, with digital manipulation often expected, the conversation is almost boring.
But this past year, the proliferation of click-bait #fakenews sites, and even inconsistencies in the mainstream media have complemented 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 current exhibition. We asked photographers to submit open ended work that addresses photography's historically tainted relationship to truth, under today's heightened cloud of skepticism and the absurdity of Conway's words. The 50+ photographs in this exhibition address these ideas at varying angles. Kent Rogowski, kicks off the show with an image from his series Love=Love: a tightly organized collage created by combining pieces from more than 60 store bought puzzles, all cut using the same die, but with varying images. In the context of this show, Rogowski's work functions as a kind of metaphor for the mashing up of truth and perspective, a disassembling of things we might hold true.
Treading into news and media-driven territory, Sadie Wechsler, whose fantasy narratives wear manipulation on their sleeve - presents a cryptic image of a wounded woman waiting for a gradually pixilating rescue helicopter. It's a digital phantom that appears to be real on first inspection, but as we look closer, is obviously a fake. For Wechsler, the image concocts the scene for a newsworthy event that is itself an illusion.
And then there's Jessamyn Lovell, who, after having her identity stolen, hired a private investigator to pursue and photograph her thief.
Our decision, like in many past shows, to include only one picture per photographer complicates this conversation - as a whole, they are dots of an incomplete narrative, a quick glimpse that barely hint at each artist's larger practice.