group show 57
Earlier this year, Terri Loewenthal's exhibition Psychscapes blew our minds. Her mysteriously colorful large-format landscape photographs – made entirely in-camera – present a radical take on centuries of landscape photography. But what really grabbed us was its psyched-out trippiness. We recalled many other contemporary photographers who approach psychedelia differently in their work and have crossed paths with Humble over the years. For example, Alexander Binder's specter-laden photographs and Katie Shapiro's use of gels and collage to imbue a strange and spiritual view of classic topography (both in her own work and in her curatorial practice). And then Michael Pollan's new book "How to Change Your Mind" came out. So, we said to ourselves "wouldn't it be cool if we curated an entire exhibition of different takes on contemporary photographic psychedelia?"
What follows is work from more than 60 artists using photography with a range of psychedelic hues. Some look at the land – and portraiture in the work of Kris Graves and Benoit Paillé– with rainbow-hazed eyes. Artists including Alex Lysakowski and Francesca Pozzi borrow elements of classic Surrealism as they twist reality. And then there's a recurring reference to portals: Matthew Shain, Mike Spears, Rebecca Nadjowski, Nicole Rosenthal, Scott Hazard, and others depict ominous door-like shapes overtaking the frame, offering an entry to another dimension. On the surface, it might all appear as purely visual strangeness. Sure, it's cool and tripped-out to look at, but what does it all mean, and why now?
While the artists included in this exhibition come from different experiences and practices, what brings their work together in the context of this exhibition is a visual escape. These pictures – whether they're Loewenthal's color-soaked landscapes, Jacob Haupt's fantastical staged tableaus, Leah Freed's obsessive, repetitive printing as a means of coping with every day stressors, or Levi Mandel's somehow voyeuristic photograph of a Big Bird impersonator in New York City's Central Park – create a drugged-out fantasy world that gives us a momentary, micro-dosed pause from reality.
Thanks for looking,
Roula Seikaly and Jon Feinstein