New York Photo Review
from the NYPR Archives

Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Soho Photo Gallery
Central Booking Magazine

Magical Visions
Caleb Charland
Fathom and Fray
Attempting to Paddle Straight at the Moon by Caleb Charland. Source: michaelmazzeo.com
Caleb Charland “Study for Sun with Face Mirror, 2009

Caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of an ultra-flat, affectless documentary style and the supremely self-involved MFA-driven one, photography these last few years has seemed unable to find its way out of the dark wood of silliness, pretension and grandiosity.

But enough of endless narcissism – at last this season we can celebrate the medium’s ability to combine rich objective content with exciting subjective imagination. The new Caleb Charland show at Michael Mazzeo is truly wondrous to behold.

Gathering the light cast from the things of this world, only to reflect it back at us, photography is the medium of the mirror. How apt, therefore, that some of Charlard’s most intriguing images incorporate actual mirrors, notably in a piece “Study for Sun with Face Mirror”, in which he puts himself virtually in orbit.

Planetary Model, January 1st, 2011 by Caleb Charland. Source: michaelmazzeo.com
Caleb Charland, "Planetary Model, January 1st, 2011"

Using as his point of departure scientific ideas and optical phenomena, Charland has created a series of intelligent, meaningful, poetic images that remind us of what photography can be. Or of a little boy who bought a magic show from Edmund Scientific with which to amaze the assembled company at family dinner.

Charland imagines science as magic, and some of his scenes, especially the snow filled ones, as science fiction. There he is, signaling a distant planet in Reflection in a Snow Storm, or conjuring an apparition in Light Sphere with My Right Arm and Cigarette Lighter, or showing us the atom at the end of a drill in Atomic Model II.

With affinities to some of Joseph Cornell’s boxes and Bernice Abbott’s under-appreciated physics illustrations, these images cross the line between the factual and the surreal. While he sets up his photographs, he does not bore us with constant references to this fact, or indulge in the kind of meta self-consciousness so many of his less gifted contemporaries do. He just does his stuff. And very nice stuff it is, too.

Again and again Charland demonstrates the meaning of photography – Light Drawing– making the intrinsic magic of a medium that can do such a thing abundantly clear.

Caleb Charland
Fathom and Fray


Michael Mazzeo Gallery
508 W 26th St. 3rd Fl
Chelsea         Map

212 741 6599
michaelmazzeo.com

Thursday, May 5 to
Friday, June 24, 2011
Hours: Wed - Sat, 12 to 6
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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery