Go See – New York: New Photography 2009 at MoMA through January 11, 2010

October 19th, 2009

Walead Beshty Three Color Curl Photography MOMA
Three Color Curl (CMY: Irvine, California, August 24th, 2008, Fuji Crystal Archive Type C). 2008. Walead Beshty via MOMA

A vanguard showcase of contemporary photographers – Walead Beshty , Daniel Gordon, Sara VanDerBeek, Carter Mull, Leslie Hewitt, Sterling Ruby – is currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. An annual program that aims to bring cutting-edge artists to the attention of novelty-craving public has acquired a new thematic dimension. As the Associate Curator and the organizer of New Photography 2009, Eva Respini observes that this year’s select artists come from varied backgrounds and most “actively work in other disciplines” and draw inspiration from “drawing, sculpture, video, and installation.” The exhibit runs through January 11, 2010.

Related links:
New Photography 2009 Press Release [MOMA]
Pictures Generation Roundtable: After Materiality and Style [Art in America]
Artists that Push the Boundaries of Photography
[PDN Pulse]
Tate Triennial 2009 [Frieze Magazine]
Who is Sterling Ruby? [Frieze Magazine]
Words Without Pictures Review [ArtForum]
Art in Review: Leslie Hewitt [NY Times]
The Whitney Biennial 2008: About the Artist – Leslie Hewitt [The Whitney]
Daniel Gordon [ArtForum]
Sara VanDerBeek Review [ArtReview]
Marc Foxx Gallery: Carter Mull

Artist profiles and more images after the jump…

New Photography 2009 brings to the table the lively debate on the nature of photography as art in the 21st Century. The photographers are becoming more actively involved in the critical discourse on the methods and nature of contemporary photographic practices. In fact, Walead Beshty has written extensively on the topic and was a prominent figure in the recently organized open discussion and event forum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that culminated a year-long debate in a book titled Words Without Pictures (co-edited by the Curator Charlotte Cotton and the artists Alex Klein).

Walead Beshty Three Color Curl Photography MOMA
Three Color Curl (CMY: Irvine, California, August 19th, 2008, Fuji Crystal Archive Type C). 2008. Walead Beshty via MOMA

The Whitney Biennial 2008 Artist in Focus: Walead Beshty via The Whitney

In a time of economic uncertainty and political turmoil, photography seems to have retreated back to the studio and darkroom. All artists in the show produce photographs through long and often complicated processes that involve physical or digital manipulation, assemblage, re-photographing, and various chemical techniques performed in the darkroom. Walead Beshty attempts to reconcile abstraction and materiality in his work by using sheets of photo paper to construct linear freestanding sculptures before exposing them to light. The process involves the use of magnet and rolling techniques that create images of bursting color, dynamic in line and form.

Los Angeles Times Carter Mull Photography MOMA
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, August 5th, 2008. 2008-09. Carter Mull via MOMA

Carter Mull turns archival material into magic and employs issues of The Los Angeles Times as the primary source of origin for his images, which ultimately look nothing like their media points of reference. Here the camera and the computer act as laboratory instruments to transform the original image in a series of connected, synthesized and distilled impressions to create a new form.

Leslie Hewitt Conceptual Photography MOMA
Riffs on Real Time. 2002-05. Leslie Hewitt via MOMA

The art of Leslie Hewitt steers most closely to the traditional methods of photography. By assembling other photographs, newspaper clippings and hand-written notes and then photographing these already reproduced material Hewitt distances herself from the African-American History these images document. Her work also deals with repurposing historical documents and past memories in the present.  Hewitt’s photosculptural compositions recall and question our access to memory, how it can easily be reframed and restructured by means of incidental space and time.

Daniel Gordon Red Headed Woman Photography MOMA
Red Headed Woman. 2008. Daniel Gordon via MOMA

Daniel Gordon‘s work is reminiscent of the Dada collages. He creates personages by clipping and assembling images and color paper into imaged portraits, then photographs and further manipulates the images. Gordon’s work deals primarily with the fragmentation of the body and recalls the work of Romare Bearden and Kurt Schwitters. Unlike the work of these post-war artists whose fragmented vision was a direct result of conflict-torn Europe, Gordon’s images are a reflection of fragility and discordant sexuality and angst.

Composition for Detroit (detail). 2009. Sara VanDerBeek via MOMA

Sara VanDerBeek produces photographs through constructive and deconstructive methods of assembly and careful arrangement of found objects and personal items. Lugubriously lighting lends theatricality and sentimentality to her work while raising the question of illusory subjectivity and materiality fused through multi-dimensional forms.

Sterling Ruby Animal Photography MOMA
Animal. 2009. Sterling Ruby via MOMA

The most digitally comfortable of the group appear to be Sterling Ruby whose computer-realized images combine bright acrylic spatters over blurred, often iconographic or topographic subject matter. Ruby draws from ancient art, graffiti, science fiction and pop culture. The photographs of stencils and primitive drawings adorned with nail polish add psychedelic quality to Ruby’s work that has recently shifted from sculpture to conceptual 2D media.