Photography has a familiar relationship to chance operations, happy accidents, rewarded risks and unexpected discoveries. No such serendipity applies to the sensation of cruel accident and historical derailment ever more widely shared now. And yet both occur, even together, even often. Two titles here suggested this start: A Throw of the Dice and Museum of Chance.
Another recurring theme of photography is the desiring gaze. It can be amorous, it can be rapacious. Before we had even begun to work on our show in earnest, Dayanita Singh posted an encouraging signal in the form of an excerpt from Hervé Guibert’s collection of essays, Ghost Image. Guibert is musing on the difference between the stance required of a Nikon, for instance (upright, potentially confrontational) versus a Hasselblad (bowing over). Guibert’s observations on this difference, so germane to our project, merit quoting at length:
T. brought my attention to the fact that in posing for B.F. who works with a Hasselblad, he felt that the photographer’s gaze was less coercive, because of the deflection involved in the use of the 2 ¼ by 2 ¼ camera, where the photographer looks down with his head bent over the viewfinder in an attitude similar to contemplation (or even prayer). His gaze ricochets off a series of mirrors toward his model; a form of desire has replaced the predatory nature, the directional brutality of the 35 millimeter camera. T. compares this gaze to the equally deflected gaze that is passed from one window to another in the subway for example – when cruising someone. Filtered through its reflection, the gaze loses some of its brutality, gains in impunity…
Books may be the natural habitat of photography, and many of the works on display speak from that ecology. But an exhibition offers a localized sociality of images, hovering from the work-a-day purpose photos can have in recognizing our own circumstances, to extraordinary perceptions. Compassionate Protocols borrows its title from another book by Guibert, The Compassion Protocol, an end of life account where Guibert is unequivocal about creative work as life-force and final witness, while dispassionately inventorying his physical decay and the search for care.
This is the second exhibition we have curated at Callicoon Fine Arts under the sign of Guibert, this time with works by Chris Curreri, Pradeep Dalal, Moyra Davey, Bracha L. Ettinger, Hadi Fallahpisheh, Alair Gomes, Hervé Guibert, William E. Jones, Catherine Lord, Ulrike Müller, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Jason Simon, Dayanita Singh.
- Moyra Davey & Jason Simon
For additional information contact Photi Giovanis at email@example.com, or call 212-219-0326.
Callicoon Fine Arts is located at 49 Delancey Street between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm.