Thursday, November 5, 2009

Current Shows @ California Museum of Photography

My first reaction last year when I found out about this place was, "There's a California Museum of Photography?!"

Why, yes, there is. It's at UC Riverside, which I realize is a bit out of town, but why not head out to Joshua Tree for the weekend and use this to break up the drive halfway through?
Their shows always look interesting and two that are on right now particularly caught my eye:

Smoke and Mirrors: The Magic of the Autochrome
September 26, 2009 - January 02, 2010

Olindo O. Ceccarini

Pictures from potatoes? Before mass produced subtractive color film became available in the 1930’s, the Autochrome was the favorite color method of professional photographers and amateur artists. First sold in 1907, and invented by the Lumière brothers, simultaneous inventors of the moving picture with Edison, the Autochrome process used miniscule grains of potato starch dyed red, blue, and green to create a chromatic screen through which to capture color with an ease never before possible. Often compared with the works of Impressionist painters, the starch grains lend a vague and painterly aspect to the images. The result is a one of a kind glass plate of striking beauty and muted, smoky color. UCR/California Museum of Photography collection contains several examples of these early twentieth century images taken by Californian photographers, such as Will Connell of Los Angeles and W. Edwin Gledhill of Santa Barbara. Smoke and Mirrors invites viewers to experience these lovely and haunting images of a time before color.

OPEN SOURCE: Lisa Oppenheim
September 26, 2009 - January 02, 2010

Lisa Oppenheim

For the project Killed Negatives: After Walker Evans, the artist accessed Walker Evans' Depression-era negatives, now part of the Farm Security Administration photographic archive in the Library of Congress. From 1935 to 1943, the FSA hired artists to photograph the effects of the Great Depression and publicize government-sponsored initiatives that changed land use and purported to improve the living and working conditions of impoverished migrant farmers, sharecroppers, and tenants. The photographs that Evans, and fellow photographers, made were largely responsible for a visual and social consciousness of the economic conditions of that time. The FSA artists sent out on assignment would ship their film back to Washington D.C. for processing. The editing of images, led by Roy Stryker, often involved "killing" negatives that he deemed unfit to print by punching holes through them. This gesture, as evidenced by the language assigned to it, is a violent one; it is also particularly poignant as the holes often cut through the bodies of the already-vulnerable people who were documented.

Working with these "undesirable" and largely unseen negatives, Oppenheim pairs a copy of a killed Evans print with a contemporary color photograph that contains only the circle of information that she imagines might have been extracted. Her work sets up a visual dialogue between the 1930s and the present day. This is a gesture and set of concerns that seems strikingly relevant, as current economic conditions are repeatedly compared to those of the Great Depression.

Oh, and also on view is Lewis Baltz's Park City Portfolio.


Anonymous said...

Funny enough, Ryan and I are heading to Joshua Tree this weekend!

Kristina said...

I'm going to LA next week for the opening of "Sport: Iooss and Leifer" and am now adding a visit to this museum to my must-do list. Thanks for the heads up!

J. Wesley Brown said...

Nice, Nate. Let's see if you can't get Ryan tio stop off with you.

@Kristina - Glad to give them exposure. I wish this one were closer to LA. said...

I had the same reaction when I first heard about it ! lol !

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.