Art night in Chelsea

Holy Shit!  I have never seen, in 17 years of being in the photo industry, images such as the ones I saw last week at an opening at Hasted Kraeutler gallery in Chelsea, NYC with my new friend Henny Garfunkel Spanish photographer, Pierre Gonnard, brings a studio set up into the Spanish and French back roads and photographs, in his words, “Lately, I have been approaching certain minorities and communities that have been displaced for ethnic, economic or political reasons, whether these be gypsies or people from Balkans and the Maghreb recently immigrated to Spain. My last project, is still on developpment. I am travelling, and setting my studio “On the road”, in the secret and hidden rural areas of the Peninsula Ibérica, from Andalucia to Galicia and Portugal, along the former “Ruta de la Plata”, looking for different human conditions: farmers communities, fishermen and coal minors. I question faces and open spaces, landscapes; seeking something different in nature andunder the earth.”

Technically speaking, most of the images are flawless and grainless and confront the viewer with their size and subjects gaze.  They are shot surprisingly on a Hasselblad.  We spoke to the photographer and he told us he brings these people, usually “gypsies”, a portfolio of images the next year he sees them as well as a box of presents.  I asked him if the subjects are aware that the images sell for $25,000 each and he said “they know everrryyyything”.  Interesting dynamics here with globalization, art as commodity and exploitation of subjects.  Some of the images I was not so fond of (focus being off and different kinds of film used) but overall quite a feat.

Next was the Canadian master photographer, Edward Burtynsky.  Breathtaking.  These are fields shot from the air in Spain.  Looked like paintings.  The exhibition entitled “Dryland Farming” at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery.  The prints, like Gursky are MASSIVE.

From the gallery:  “Shot in the remote Monegros region of northeastern Spain, the photographs capture the vibrant topography of a landscape in flux. This hilly, arid terrain is both desolate and fertile, with farmland carved from the gypsum foothills. Despite a scarcity of water, generations of farmers have attempted to tame this wilderness, growing cereal grains, such as wheat, barley, and corn, and creating the undulating patchwork seen today. Burtynsky trains his lens on these constructed landscapes, which are a juxtaposition of nature’s unspoiled beauty with man’s endeavor to harness the power and bounty within it.”

Took in some interesting performance pieces as well. The Gladstone gallery had two related pieces by dancer/yoga/performers.  The first one we saw was insane.  The room was bare except for a hole that was broken in the concrete floor about 4 ft. in circumference and was full of water.  It was dark in the room except for the lights positioned on a large disco ball that hung about the hole and slowly descended down into hole until it was completely submerged (I believe its symbolism referring to the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s).  The dance did this incredible yogic movement piece as if she was being born from the hole.  She had long hair extensions that she had wrapped around her big toes and she was moving into different contorted positions and around the hole while the spectral lights of the disco ball moved in the opposite direction which made the whole room feel as it was spinning.  People were getting dizzy in the room. She eventually submerged into the water filled hole in the middle of the gallery.  The next one consisted of her and a man climbing all over each other in a room that had electronic controlled paint drips coming from the ceiling.

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