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Photography as the: EYE GYM
23/01/2007 - 28/02/2007

Douglas Gordon, Spencer Young, Minor White, Jack Pierson, Kenneth Josephson, AmandaRoss Ho
Curator: Daniela Palazzoli, A Danielle Palace show
CoCurator: Joao Ribas

This exhibition brings together the works of seven great artists – Douglas Gordon, Kenneth Josephson, Paolo Monti, Jack Pierson, Amanda Ross Ho, Minor White and Spencer Young – who, through successive generations, have moved away from the classic approach of ‘click photography’ which transforms reality into an image and have opted instead for a more modern and innovative way of using the PROCESS character of photographic media so as to create an OPEN dialogue between form and objects through the creativity of language.

Each of these seven artists is an inventor of techniques and procedures which make it pure pleasure to see the rare and precious vintage originals exhibited. What they have in common is the ability to make the viewer – who is treated as a co-protagonist rather than as a mere spectator – reconstruct the journey used for the object-photography to the ideas and things to which the artist refers in his / her work. The exhibition is the brainchild of Daniela Palazzoli, who expresses the view that ‘living in a society governed as ours is, by global media, is like trying to keep afloat in seas made rough by promiscuous compositions. The normal response is to give up and just try to enjoy what is pleasurable and rescuable, which is exactly what we do with other events that we find difficult to manage, starting with our own bodies. However, art is not simply a medium among media. For me, when this particular kind of art is worthwhile, it has the power to be a ‘supermedium’ which can and wants to communicate in both a creative and critical way with other media, things and people – with the very things that were treated as a mere passive AUDIENCE in the old world. None of these artists view their work as being a finished product in itself but rather as a type of gymnasium through which to explore the relationship between reality and media. They find pleasure in the material traces present in their own inventions but leave the spectator the space and freedom to feel inspired enough to engage in their own dialogue with each artist’s message. Art as shared creativity, not art as a passive viewing experience.’

The journey begins with two young Americans, currently riding the crest of the wave: Spencer Young (Dallas, Texas 1978) and Amanda Ross Ho (Chicago, 1975) about whom an article is dedicated in the January issue of Artforum magazine. They approach the chaotic nature of reality in which we are all immersed from a sideways view, resulting in great works which challenge us to make sense of it all. Their strategies for doing this are different but at the same time alike: by showing us the existence of something that does not exist – like the shadow of objects (Young) – or fragmented surroundings (Ross Ho) which the spectator is then called upon to recompose.

Douglas Gordon, (Glasgow, 1966) whose work is currently exhibited at MART in Rovereto, in Hand with Spot shows us how it’s possible to play with personal destiny and languages. He painted a spot on his own hand – a symbol of death in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island – used his other hand to photograph it and then transformed the result into an object using Polaroid.

Jack Pierson (Plymouth, 1960) is a tireless explorer fascinated by real objects which are also messages, words and ideas. He creates works like words by putting together letters taken from a variety of signs. The results evoke themselves, as well as the differing realities from which each individual sign comes from. He invites us to join him on the merry-go-round of shapes, objects, people, and meanings and create - as is done here - photographic-based collages.

Kenneth Josephson (Detroit,1932) is a concept photographer who has always been fascinated by the relationship between reality and illusion, real objects and virtual images. He presents them one next to the other, as he does with ‘Feathers’ one real one photographed and, as if faced with an identification parade, challenges us to discover which is the real one and which is merely a photograph of a feather. Take part in this eye gym exercise and see if you can tell the difference!

Minor White (1908-1982) and our own Paolo Monti (1908-1982) were born in the same year. Both can be thought of as ‘pure photographers’ and both have demonstrated their desire not to be subjugated to an image but to treat it instead as a moment in a process of singling out the limits of knowledge possible with photography. Minor White loves to capture the relationship between every day objects and the interferences caused by painted objects or optical effects such as shadows and reflections.

Paolo Monti, in the ‘60s with his beautiful ‘Chimigrammi’ invented his version of photography as script, obtained by using developing fluids and the invention of photography natural shapes such as leaf and root imprints. By doing this, Monti evokes the photograph of the originals – William Henry Fox Talbot’s calotypes – he also shows that the desire to grab the media bull by the horns and the joy of knowing how to rediscover and use media instead of being subjugated to them – art as an eternal gym for the eyes – cross different eras and can survive the hot-on-the-heels media chase.