New York Photo Review
Volume 4 Issue 17 April 17 to 23, 2013

The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

Odd Moments
Kristoffer Axén
Once There Was a Shock
Ed Barnas

Photo by Kristoffer Axn . Source:
Kristoffer Axén, "Sixth Train" 2009.
Kristoffer Axen’s photographs on view at the Munch Gallery are in color, but are so muted that at first glance they appear monochromatic. The edges in many are dark and the few spots of lightness are in the center. A staged feel in some of these images reminds me of Gregory Crewdon, with these eight archival pigment prints presenting the viewer with a palpable sense of unease, as if something has just happened or is about to happen. Reinforced by the image titles, they have a feeling based more in a mysterious dramatic moment and effective lighting than on scale. Five men gesticulate in the midground of “The Conversation” against a soft cloudy backdrop, the light on their shoulders suggesting halation in its softness. A Marine sergeant, in dress blues, is seen on a crowded train, the overhead light glinting off a scar on his forehead in the “Sixth Train.” A couple stands at a luminous crossroad and gazes at approaching storm clouds (“New Nature”). In “The Pond” a light from above illumines a hooded figure looking at a broken umbrella in the bushes.

Photo by Kristoffer Axn . Source:
Kristoffer Axén, "The Conversation" 2012.
There is an unreality to the depiction of people in some of these photographs. In A Trip Outside the City, we see a figure behind the wheel of a car, lit by the dome light. The rain is sharp on the near side of the car but detail drops toward the driver, who looks almost like a mannequin. A shadow on the windshield creates a ghostly figure between her and the wheel.

A figure in a hoodie is seen from behind, the light and shadows creating a weathered sculpture resembling the title of The Owl (one wonders if this is the same figures from The Pond). Two of the images are completely unpeopled – a view of an empty playground in an apartment complex and another of outdoor storage units, both at night. Oddly, I found the titles Axen supplied for these two (Onward We Trudge and Practicing Being At Home, respectively) interchangeable depending on which interpretation I choose to make of the photos.

Eight images is a small sampling of work. To gain a bit more context for writing this review, I surveyed the work Axen has chosen to display on his website and found it reflected the same dark enigmatic nature as the prints on the walls of the Munch Gallery. The prints here range in size from 22x28 to 36x46, sufficiently large to allow close inspection but not so large as to intimidate the viewer. It will be interesting to see how his work develops in future.

Kristoffer Axén
Once There Was a Shock

Munch Gallery
245 Broome St.
Lower Manhattan - East         Map

212 228 1600

Saturday, March 16 to
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Hours: Wed-Sat 12 to 8, Sun 12 to 6

Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat