New York Photo Review
Volume 4 Issue 49 Holiday Holidays! December 18 to 31, 2013

The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino

Now You See It
Barbara Probst
Susan Sermoneta

Photo by Barbara Probst . Source: murrayguy.com Barbara Probst, "Exposure #106: N.Y.C., Broome & Crosby Streets, 04.17.13, 2:29 p.m" 2013

“I am not trying to invent images; I am actually trying to make images that relate to all kinds of images we have seen before." Barbara Probst

Barbara Probst makes pictures of how pictures work: how they work on the viewer and how they work on the space and the content they picture. It's as though Probst is standing just out of view of the images, speaking around them to us. We are walking back and forth in front of and to the side of the images, and everything comes together to make the experience "whole" – and quite enjoyable. She practices a participatory art that engages the mind and the body. When you add the knowledge that each image in the grouping was taken at the same instant with cameras set up at different points in the scene, we "know" how to experience the images. But somehow we knew that already.

Photo by Barbara Probst . Source: murrayguy.com Barbara Probst, "Exposure #109: Munich studio, 09.19.13, 5:31 p.m." 2013

Earlier, as a student of sculpture, Probst learned to walk around the subject she was sculpting – to get a three-dimensional experience of the subject. When she moved to photography, she realized that this experience of seeing the subject from different sides could help her make images of ordinary subjects (people, objects, landscapes) that let us see the subjects in new ways – from several perspectives at the same moment in time. Add to this the mix of close ups and full body shots – the mix of black & white & color shots – the mix of street scenes and interiors – and you have an almost playful challenge to match up images in time in space.

Then add the awareness that these images are presented to us in a necessarily linear fashion, neatly sequenced in a horizontal line along a wall, or in a patchwork on a wall, or in a line that runs along one wall and extends along the wall perpendicular to it. Though this element puts even more effort onto the viewer to experience the grouping from mentally off-kilter stances, it works. (This must've been a hard decision – an alternative might have been to construct little (octagonal?) booths and hang the images on the walls and even the ceiling for us to see.)

Photo by Barbara Probst . Source: murrayguy.com Barbara Probst, "Exposure #106: N.Y.C., Broome & Crosby Streets, 04.17.13, 2:29 p.m" 3013

Probst's photographs definitely stand on their own – not singly, but in groupings (as intended). (I'm surprised that on the Murray Guy website there's a single image taken out of a grouping of several images. I wonder why they did that when it's the grouping-plus-viewer that make the art come together.)

Although there's much to discuss about the philosophy and technique of Probst's work, there's no need to engage in that discussion. Her photography works without it, but it works on a different level with knowledge of the underpinnings.

Barbara Probst



Murray Guy
453 W 17th St. 2nd Fl
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Saturday, November 9 to
Sunday, December 22, 2013
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