“I of The Camera“
Michael Weschler, Robert Leslie, Builder Levy & Barry Rosenthal
On View Until: April 25, 2015
Flomenhaft Gallery, 547 West 27th St, Suite 200, New York, NY, 10001
Photographs are signs. They ask to be noticed, looked at, spectated. The Participant shooting the images asks for this, one who places himself inside his own scene (because photographs are really just reflections) and discloses evidence to the viewer of what they desire to communicate by the language of vision, by what is already visible. They ask the viewer to take position of the camera (what the photographer has seen) and make a judgement. The signs in this show reveal personal reflections of observations, perspective, to show what has meaning, meaning belonging (initially) to the Participant. The intention is to show what, or who, has validity of importance.
Robert Leslie travels the route he first experienced during his time in America as a child in the 1960’s. Coming back in the middle of his life to photograph the “Sun Belt” (“inspired by Barack Obama’s inaugural message of hope”), he traveled a route from Miami to Los Angeles, looking over the landscape, coming face-to-face with an acquaintance he has met decades ago and sees that the vibrance that once existed was now in a state of grimness.
Where’s the green grass? The landscapes make me thirsty. These places seem abandoned, untouched. The landscapes echo a scene that could be recognizable from time immemorial, from our ancestors. The horizon falls into nothing, but extends itself into the curvature of our planet. The landscape has changed from time ago, sometimes feeling barren, infertile, and other times you feel like sinking into solitude because of their quietness, their absence. But Leslie has seen things that were just plainly abandoned and has given them a new meaning of Beauty, has given them new life. Their life hangs on the walls.
Michael Weschler looks at men he admires, those with enduring and unceasing work ethic; those who sustained a passion in order to reach their dreams. He displays them and each of these men make eye contact with us, confronting us, making us acknowledge them. Acknowledging them for who they are and what they do. Weschler’s focus was to create a signature image, one that captures their essence, a fundamental quality. An image that displays both the strength in their characters and the vulnerability one might display when faced with a camera. The combination of these is only one combination of elements to create an image that is meaningful because you can see it in their faces, and bodies. It is also long-lasting in the memory, a reference your mind might flip to when you see Alexander Wang’s clothes in a magazine, or when you see Liam Neeson in a film. And because your memory might flip to these images when you’re reminded of these men, doesn’t that mean the signature image was successfully created?
Barry Rosenthal color themes his images of functional objects that are found outside. White plastic jugs, plastic spoons, blue sandals, empty prescription bottles… as if each object is curious enough to make you wonder who touched these, who used them and why. It is if each product has a story (a memory) of its own. And the sum of these objects (whose meanings start changing in front of us) adds up to a bigger idea: these are objects that are used to excess. A diversified array of objects that have been forgotten – essentially trash – has been brought into being by giving it an existence-by-image in which, whose meaning touches the realm of social commentary and observation (Rosenthal being an observer of culture).
Photographers that reflect one’s own individualized truth – a subjective and objective analysis of their surroundings, those that put the “I” into their work. Each one sees someone or something with weighty prominence, images that were made in the first place to expose the importance of what the seer deemed valuable. Moments, or the combination of elements, that wouldn’t be seen unless it was captured by the camera (the photographer; or rather the impulse of his finger); it was an attempt – or much rather a giving to the moment a permanence that only the photographer has seen, has recognized.