Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chris, Voltron and I

This week I saw the Robert Polidori retrospective exhibit at the MAC (Musee D'Art Contemporain de Montreal). This show contains images from many different projects including The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, Lebanon, Cuba, Versailles, New Orleans, and a few other places. The images are beautifully shot, all with gorgeous light and vibrant colours. They are also wonderfully printed and are shown without glass so that you can really appreciate the prints. And yet I wasn't that taken in by the exhibit as a whole. I think one of the problems was that I usually expect something a little more thought provoking from the MAC. Sure you get to see how war, nature, abandonment and communism affect interiors of buildings, but it doesn't seem like anything new. There are lots of other people photographing the same subjects and in my mind they often get more meaningful and successful results. For example David McMillan's images from Chernobyl. McMillan photographed the exclusion zone over many years, often shooting the same places over and over again. These images of the same places over time really speaks to how abandonment affects architecture. Unfortunately there are not many examples of this time-lapsed approach on his site but if you scroll through the images you will find some. Then when looking at Polidori's Cuban images of the interiors of people's homes I thought of Bert Teunissen's images from his Domestic Landscapes series. This work, which includes the residents in the images of old and forgotten interiors have so much more personality and draws me in to how the spaces are actually used. But of course neither of these artists was born in Montreal (although Polidori left Montreal by the age of 10) and speaks French.

Another brief review for you: Tony Fouhse's User at IPS (In Plain Sight). I saw this exhibit last week, and tomorrow is the last day for this show. I was already aware of many of the images through Tony's site and blog but it was still great to see a gallery full of them. Well great might not be the right word. The images of drug users are frank and hide nothing. Many of the portraits are disturbing and I did not envy Zoe who was surrounded by them every day. So perhaps not something you want to hang on your wall, but I think that they are very powerful portraits. Tony is obviously an open individual and the honest gaze that his subjects give him allows us some insight into the humanity and personality of the individual drug users. Definitely worth seeing for any portrait photographers.

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