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

Trapped in the Picture Plane
Alejandro Chaskielberg
The High Tide
Reviewer #1
The Paraguayans by Alejandro  Chaskielberg. Source: yossimilo.com
Alejandro Chaskielberg, "The Paraguayans" 2007

In 1972 David Levinthal started photographing small toy soldiers in elaborate scenes to produce a groundbreaking work “Hitler Moves East”. His sharply delineated toy soldiers against their out of focus foregrounds and backgrounds had a distinctive, almost realistic, but utterly surreal look. Thirty five years, and tens of thousands of photography MFA pictures of dolls later, Alejandro Chaskielberg has reversed the process. Using both traditional and contemporary techniques he has gone to great lengths to produce photographs of actual people in real scenes that make them look like meticulously detailed and posed action figures.

Chaskielberg, an Argentinian photographer, has been documenting life on the Paranas River Delta, the heavily populated but roadless area that is just to the north of Buenos Aires. But rather than simply hang with the locals and grab his images when he can, he enlists people to re-enact scenes of daily life, under conditions where he can carefully control lighting and composition, and often at night. Chaskielberg shoots the landscape with long exposures and then uses a variety of lights, from strobes to candles, to illuminate the central areas of the scene. It would seem that there is also a large amount of post-production work done on each as well.

 by unidentified photographer.
Alejandro Chaskielberg

The large prints in this show are intense and striking, and this reviewer heard several audible “Wow’s” as visitors entered the gallery from the street. But once the the initial impact is absorbed, I found it hard to go deeper into these images. It is hard to feel empathy with people who look like they’re cyborgs. Yes, the images do offer a commentary on the meaning of documentary photography, asking what is real in a photograph. But, because the photographer has gone to such lengths to make the images look unreal, any deeper message seems to be trapped deep within the picture plane.

As often happens with a show that has little to say but lots of technique, the reconstruction of the photo-making process is more interesting than the final work itself.

Alejandro Chaskielberg
The High Tide


Yossi Milo Gallery
525 W 25th St. Ground Fl
Chelsea         Map

212 414 0370
yossimilo.com

Thursday, June 2 to
Friday, July 29, 2011
Hours: Tue-Sat, 10 to 6
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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery