Character Study Reviewed for Photograph Magazine

September 14 2019

Character Study featured six photographers who hove each returned over time to specific subiects -lovers, spouses, children -models with whom they hove intimate connections. It's a practice that might offer a greater insight into a given subiect's character, yet the underlying theme was the romantic ideo of the muse. The show began with nine silver-gelatin prints comprising Sam Contis's After Practice {Maryanne}, 2018-2019, depicting a young woman whose face fills the frame in each shot. Maryanne is a member of a Pennsylvania high school track team that Contis has been pho-tographing for some time, but otherwise her relationship to her subiect is ambiguous. The repeated visage, with evidence of youthful acne, is intimate but inscrutable. In its waver-ing composition, from picture to picture, it ploys like a more relaxed version of Rani Horn's You ore the Weather, 1994-95, her more exacting close-up photographs of one woman, Morgret. There's a more concise narrative to the rela-tionship in Nobuyoshi lvaki's Sentimento/Jour-ney, 1971/2015, eight photographs of his first wife, beginning with 01n image of a traditional wedding photo and continuing with images of sex, hospital stays, and untimely death, mo-ments only available to on intimate. The some is true of Solly Mann's abstracted nudes of her husband, token between 2004 and 2008, which show a body softened by muscular dys-trophy. Mann's antiquated processes give the works a sepia warmth that also alludes to hu-man imperfection and physical weakness. Ryan McGinley and Jim Goldberg both employed a fractured, collage-like approach to portray a partner, and daughter, respec-tively. My, Marc, 2015-2019, is McGinley's bulletin-board-like constellation of breezy, sensuous images of Marc. Lithe, stylish, and often nude, Marc is playful and smiling. Even an image of him with a bloody nose retains a sunny demeanor. Goldberg's more convention-ally displayed series (framed individual prints and drawings) tracks his daughter Ruby from second grade to college graduation. The im-ages are diverse -a glittering, red-lit empty stage, Talent Show, 1998/2019, evokes a performance of childhood, while subsequent pictures trace chronological growth -and the mixture of snapshots (taken by a seasoned pho-tographer) and more artfully composed and embellished images form an evolving medita-tion on family ties. Four pictures by Paul Mpagi Sepuya depict Darren, in 2006, 2011, and 2018-with whom Sepuya had a 12-year affiliation. Though nudi-ty conveys intimacy, there's no specificity to the relationship. Two photographs are conventional portraits, while the others add a specific interro-gation of the gaze: Darren, September 8, 2011, is a picture of a framed 8x 1 0-inch photograph of the figure, flanked by curls of drying orange peels, and Darkroom Mirror {_2210146}, 2018, shows Darren, naked, photographing himself, owning his image. This piece serves as the show's elliptical punctuation -the muse/ subject and photographer engaging a com-plex, mercurial, eroticized relationship.

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Character Study Reviewed for Photograph Magazine