New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Naked Iron by Boris Bendicov
Boris Bendikov
Naked Iron
R. Wayne Parsons
Boris Bendicov

Forget high tech! While photographs of circuit boards, memory chips and other manifestations of the latest technological revolution have a certain amount of formal elegance, they cannot begin to compare in sheer visual, even visceral, impact to those of far older artifacts of the industrial revolution: gears, wheels, pipes, valves etc. made from cast iron, steel and the other muscle-metals of heavy industry. This is the idea behind Russian photographer Boris Bendikov's current exhibition of oil refinery equipment at Sputnik Gallery.

These large color photographs (though mostly monochromatic due to the nature of the machinery itself) were made in a studio with the objects placed in front of a bright white backdrop. The machine parts are closely cropped, with no clue as to scale, and we are given no information as to their use other than that they are from oil refineries. This treatment lends a monumental quality to the result, emphasizing the attractive formal properties of these objects but also stressing their sheer power as well as man's mastery of nature; there is no suggestion that nature might bite back, as recent events in another part of the oil industry half way around the globe attest. These are appealing photographs, even if not breaking new ground.

The main weakness in the images comes from the bright background, so bright that the resulting flare casts a white fog over parts of the image, typically on the transitional edges between the machine and the backdrop. To this viewer’s eyes the results would be better without this artifice – the strength in these machines is best liberated when they are clearly presented in all their glorious detail rather than obscured in a white haze.

Incidentally, Mr. Bendikov is not served well by the pretentious art speak prose of the press release, which draws farfetched parallels and implications of these images to those of the nude female figure. According to this prose, Mr. Bendikov “deconstructs,” “transforms,” and “challenges.” The one thing missing is “decontextualize.”

 by unidentified photographer.
Boris Bendicov

Boris Bendikov
Naked Iron

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Thursday, June 17 to
Saturday, July 31, 2010
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