Features

A column of special features and reports by contemporary photographic writers and critics. Contains special conversations, reviews, essays, profiles, and more.

Eternal Return presents a non-linear family narrative of bereavement, separation and reunification through dreamscapes and mythic archetypes. Composing black and white landscapes, still-lifes, personal family photos in a series of collages on a skylight windowpane to obscure the light of the Sun, the series seeks to question the obfuscating effect of photographs in the cyclical nature of mourning and the passing of memories from generation to generation.

The constructed photographic works in this series, Dining Room Pictures, Interrupted, are a contemporary and feminist take on the traditional concept of the “dining room picture,” or early 20th century American still-life painting. I’m exploring what the still life genre reveals during a time when image inundation and simulacra are ubiquitous; in today’s age of late capitalism. I am also investigating spaces that historically make up social constructs for women, such as prettiness and politeness.

This exhibition presents images from 44 young photographers who graduated in the Spring of 2020, amid the disruptions and closures brought on by the spread of COVID-19.  We set out to create a call for entries that could provide an alternative to canceled and disrupted thesis exhibitions to give students an opportunity to present their work to a broader public. The following represents a survey of submitted works, including one image from each newly graduated photographer who submitted to our call.

In this book something otherworldly is embodied in theory and ideology. The pictures are beautiful and the essays revealed, but what shines through is a commitment to community, discourse, and surrender. This form of surrender is to others’ ideas and others’ instincts, which allows a bigger picture of camaraderie and a new form of self described memorial to those we love to emerge.

Cloaked in a rhetoric of commercial promise, Joseph Desler Costa’s pictures appear, with glossy sheen, fresh off an assembly line. At first glance they present a seemingly impenetrable surface of salesmanship, a mere costuming over the artist’s searching through his own memory for products of promise that have shaped his upbringing. Costa finds an inseparable link between aesthetics and desire, allowing his own pictures to succumb to that aesthetics as a means to reveal the inner workings of them. In his pictures, consumer staples like Nike shoes and McDonald’s fries are mixed with sparse fragments of recreated memories rendered with foggy vagueness. What Costa produces is a masquerade of a masquerade, subverting the idealist promise of commerce and blending memory and desire into hypnotic echo of an echo of the real. What things may satisfy us? What convinces us of their satisfying qualities? How do pictures sell things, or inversely, how can a picture help but not be an advertisement for itself? And what of our own desire really belongs to us, and what has been implanted via the stealthy pointy end of a well made picture?

Out of the mysteries of the world figures and objects take form; they shine in darkness. A howling racket carves through the shifting of sight and imagery. The world of color is removed from curiosity because it is entrapped in literality. Grays, black and white, silvers—brilliant and pointed— are identified in every language and culture before color is procured.