The Armory Show 2016 was a chance for photo collectors to see works that challenge photographic processes, scale and subject matter. Below, in her third installment for ETTD, DC-based writer, curator and collector Vikki Tobak highlights her top picks in photography from around the fair, ranging from portraits to documentary photographs to abstraction.
Yossi Milo featured John Chiara’s New York cityscapes, tonally reversed, vibrantly hued negative photographs taken during the artist’s recent residency in New York. The images were made using large-scale, photographic equipment and unconventional developing processes. Over the course of seven years, Chiara has built custom-made cameras that vary in size, with the largest measuring approximately 50” x 55”, into which the artist can climb inside. Working in almost total darkness, he places positive color photographic paper on the camera’s back wall, where the image is projected. He works instinctual to control the amount of light entering the lens, using his hands to burn and dodge the image. The photographs are then developed in a spinning drum process that agitates the chemistry, traces of which are sometimes left in the final piece.
Richard Mosse / Jack Shainman Gallery
Photographer and filmmaker Richard Mosse focuses on war-torn regions, capturing the effects of conflict on landscapes and people in large-scale, cinematic images, shot with Kodak Aerochrome, an infrared surveillance film that renders greens into acid pinks and reds. Mosse’s practice lays at the intersection of documentary journalism and contemporary art practice, explaining that he seeks to represent the what cannot be represented in order to “help us begin to describe, and thereby account for, what exists at the limits of human articulation.”
Zanele Muholi / Yancey Richardson Gallery
At Yancey Richardson, portraits by the South African photographer Zanele Muholi are on view. Muholi, on the heels of her first large-scale exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum last spring, is best known for her depictions of the gay and lesbian community in South Africa
Matthew Brandt / M+B Gallery
Matthew Brandt’s Wai’anae series further pushed the limits of the photographic process. Taking the natural world as his subject, the artist’s chromogenic prints of the Hawaiian jungle are rolled in dirt, leaves, burlap and lace, and then buried on a farm in Oahu. Over time the layers of emulsions in the prints mix with the elements, and as the surfaces erode, impressions of the patterned fabrics and materials emerge, in visceral traces of the process.
Vikki Tobak is a DC-based journalist and public art curator. For more of her work visit publik projects and follow her on Twitter @vtobak and Instagram @vtobak