The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

Brooklyn RideAbout

Ed Barnas
Photo by Chie Nishio . Source: brooklynpubliclibrary.org
Chie Nishio

Unlike Manhattan, the outer boroughs are not well endowed with galleries. Outside of DUMBO and several museums, venues for photo exhibits are few and far between. Nevertheless, last week I took the opportunity to ride about Brooklyn to check out a number of venues exhibiting in November.

My first stop was the Central Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza. There were two photography exhibits on display – one in display cases in the foyer, the other on the balcony. In the foyer over forty black and white images from Chie Nishio’s “The Hasidim of Crown Heights, Brooklyn: A Community Study” were on view, one of several studies of American sub-communities by the Japanese-born photographer.

Taken over a two-year period in the early 1990s, the photos explore the daily life and rituals of this close-knit community in a traditional documentary style alongside several formal portraits. Many possess a sense of everyday life intimacy; not, however, when men and women are traditionally separated in the synagogue and at weddings. In the photos of the men photographed from the women’s side of the divide, the feeling of distance is especially enhanced by the flattening effect of a longer lens.

Photo by Jesseca Ferguson . Source: brooklynpubliclibrary.org
Jesseca Ferguson

On the balcony is Jessica Ferguson’s “Writing with Light: Photography & Books”. A selection of pinhole photographs, artist books and book objects created with cyanotype and gum bichromate printing and collage, the items on display offer a rumination on both the “word” as an image and the concept of “writing” with light.

Photo by Ilonka van der Putten . Source: www.billorcutt.com
Ilonka van der Putten

My next stop was in Clinton Hill to view Ilonka van der Putten’s “Small Matters” exhibit at Gallery Three at South Oxford Space While van der Putten has worked for decades behind the scenes photographing art for galleries, artists, and collectors, this is her first solo exhibit. The subject matter of the eleven ink-jet prints on display is wildflowers, photographed close-up in the fall as they die and dry out. The images range from the identifiable to the abstract with a color palette so desaturated that one would think that several of these photographs were monochrome. Though the gallery space is the well-lit third-floor elevator lobby, there is adequate room to stand back and view the work on the walls. Also in the Clinton Hill area is the Corridor Gallery whose multi-media group show “Home” is on display. Among thirteen artists included are several photographers, the most notable being Carrie Mae Weems. The photography varied from Catherine de Zagon’s Vietnamese homes and Don Lambert’s documentation of Cuban family reunions to Rachel Rath’s photograms, Amanda William’s 6x9 grid-mosaic mural, and Felix Plaza’s constructs from gum bichromate and silkscreen prints. The Corridor Gallery is affiliated with the Rush Arts Gallery in Chelsea.

Photo by Jean-Christian Bourcart . Source: foam.org
Jean-Christian Bourcart

Literally a black box – the undivided basement below Bizarre Bushwick, Bizarre Black Box Gallery in Bushwick displays Jean-Christian Bourcart’s “All About Love”. His thirty-two prints are large, mounted flush in black frames on the black-painted brick walls. They depict scenes from Frankfurt bordellos, New York S&M vaults, and Paris swing clubs, all snapped surreptitiously in the 1990s. They are blurred from long exposures with a color palette heavily black and red (both from the red lights and the tungsten color shift). In the wall copy, Bourcart recounts his activities as voyeur and sometime participant, noting his “perversion” as enjoyment of the betrayal of the secret of those places, the intimacy of the participants. The work is definitely NSFW but in the context of this gallery forms a rare confluence of space and imagery complementing each other.

Brooklyn RideAbout by Ed Barnas

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