New York Photo Review
Volume 3 Issue 6 February 22 to 28, 2012

Discarded Landscapes
David Zimmerman
Last Refuge
Ed Barnas
Last Refuge 123 by David Zimmerman. Source:
David Zimmerman, "Last Refuge 123" 2011

Even if one is not aware that David Zimmerman is known for his landscape and environmental projects, a quick glance at some of the large (30 x 40) color photographs on display at Sous les Etoiles would bring to mind aerial photographs of arid mountains and alluvial fans. The colors are muted and the textures reminiscent of rock formations seen from above. A second look reveals buttons, seams, the texture of weathered clothing, and colors subdued by exposure to the sun and the elements.

Last Refuge is an extended study of a pile of old clothes by the side of the road. Traveling across the Southwestern desert for his landscape and architectural work, David Zimmerman has met an increasing number of people living on the road or camped beside it in haphazard communities, some by choice but many driven there by the economic downturn. He was first attracted to this pile of cloth by its color palette and flattened form. Only later did he discover that this stack of apparent discards formed an insulating layer over the tin roof of a dugout, the last refuge of a man living “off the grid.” The occupant of this abode does not appear in any of these photos, nor do any of the other people he has met in his travels; perhaps they will appear in a future series

Last Refuge 277 by David Zimmerman. Source:
David Zimmerman, "Last Refuge 277" 2011

The subject is treated as a formal study of patterns and texture, photographed in lovingly crisp detail with a medium format digital back and rendered larger than life (prints are available as 20x 26.7, 30x40, & 45x60). The images carry on a long tradition in art (and in photography, considering the early photographic studies of Fox Talbot) of exploring the aesthetic possibilities of ruin. However, they also offer a level of visual ambiguity that can hold the viewer’s interest over a longer term: first you see a landscape, then you see the clothes, then you flip back and forth. The flattened perspective and top-down view adds to this ambiguity. While all the images are presented as horizontal images, I can see a number of them rotated ninety or a hundred eighty degrees and sparking renewed interest to the viewer. Perhaps it is my own attraction to texture, but I find these photographs intriguing as objects for contemplation, with their complexity a counterpoint to the elegant simplicity to the images of Lake Superior by Hiroshi Sugimoto recently on view at Pace/MacGill.

David Zimmerman
Last Refuge

Sous les Etoiles
560 Broadway 2nd Fl
Lower Manhattan - West         Map

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Thursday, December 8 to
Friday, February 24, 2012
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