Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Recent Inventory Acquisitions | Vedanta Gallery

Recent Inventory Acquisitions | Vedanta Gallery
Originally posted on Panel-House: October 2003

There are only two works in this exhibition that do not fit the pictorial aesthetic at play in this exhibition. Surprisingly the two images are from Hiroshige Sugimoto, one cannot forget his grandiose photographs planted at the MCA months ago, and they are “Winnetka Drive-In, Paramount, 1993” and “Metro, Vienna, 2001”; 20”x24” focused gelatin prints of two different theatres. The pictorial aesthetic I am referring to is that of the not-quite-grandiose-but-almost-there large format mounted onto or behind something shiny and reflective.

The subjects of these photographs widely differ which is what makes them interesting, for the most part. Massimo Vitali’s “L.A.” (c-print behind plexiglass 71” x 89”) is a detailed and touched/edited/manipulated depiction of a church conference inside of a stadium. It is quite a captivating long glance at spatial confusion brought on by the event that is captured, especially if this is Oakland’s Network Associates Coliseum which it may well be considering the Raider’s logos. I mean where and when have Christians been in coliseum’s before and what was their fate? Erwin Wurm’s “Indoor Sculptures” and the nighttime blurs of Mischa Kuball “Urban Lights” are disparate in subject and effect yet compelling on their own.

Here are these images, mostly large with two exceptions, and not to forget sleek, so what? Vedanta is pointing to the current of contemporary photography very well and it is bizarre inventories like these that shape the photographers to come. You can witness it by the pocket emptying graduate work emerging from local institutions. Thankfully there is no disguise on Vedanta’s part of their new inventory on promenade. Vedanta has no illusion as to what these acquisitions imply. “Recent Inventory Acquisitions” is a perfect exposition of photography’s place in the “market society”. The question is, quite simply, why? They have never just blatantly exhibited their recent purchases for public viewing before (notice I said blatantly). They normally split their space well with younger emerging artists and more established contemporary artists in an attempt, most of the time successful, at installation.

Nagging in the distance, however, is not only the question of scale and its exaggerated output as massive but of the nature of photography itself. Why look at photography aside from its stream into daily life? It appears as if scale has momentarily solved this photographic viewing experience because if it is “big” it must be important. By importance I mean worth time to view them. These are not, nor could be confused as, snapshots. They are precious.

To stand in front of Candida Hoefer’s “Schindler House Los Angeles, 2000” and take it in brings her presence to your awareness. For it is the empty studio of modernist architect Rudolf Schindler where he and his family and friends attempted, around architecture, to structure a new way of living down to their diets. In fact, she stood in “that” place. The scale does not quite allow you to enter into the space, almost though, and there is this question of what if this photograph were really small? What if it could fit in the hand, in a wallet? Is all that is separating this photo from one a tourist would snatch is its scale, lab resources, and art market superstructure? I don’t think so, Hoefer has a very interesting way of capturing institutional spaces that though copied pales in comparison to her work. I think it is more complicated then placing the tourist who photographs against the photographer against the artist who photographs (and that itself is very complicated). In an art environment where the photograph is appearing more and more homogenous by way of its shape, scale, and price to the point where the subject is irrelevant the antithesis then rears up to counter.

Written by Terence Hannum

NOTE: Man I was a smarmy turd then. Worth noting is that Vedanta Gallery is now Kavi Gupta Gallery and I found out later that this show was arranged after another had been cancelled.

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