Digital C-print , 2008
It is showtime!
The show looks great!
See you tonight!
At the start of not only a New Year, but also a new decade, it is imperative to reflect upon the themes of our times and celebrate humanity’s accomplishments and spirit. Through the work of 18 photographers both emerging and established, Versus’ aim point is to survey photography, guided by the hand of curator Ruben Natal San-Miguel, that does just this. Compared and contrasted, each artist dissects and highlights the other through juxtapositions of subject matter, composition, style, lighting and technique. The exhibition is a cornucopia, yet the underlining tone is one that allows each of these strong voices to sing and praise the body as a whole whose refrain is socially relevant, neither mundane nor negative or shallow and is extremely timely. It is ever amazing how much courage it takes to live an ordinary life, but this exhibition hopes to cull and inspire in each viewer the motivation to embrace and own the good, usher it into their day to day and make the next year as well as decade one of positivity and strength.
Brian Ulrich vs. Alex Leme
Both Brian Ulrich and Alex Leme search and explore the content of billboards and signs while driving aimlessly through America , from the Bible Belt to the sidewalks of South Beach.Brian does the Dark Stores, Thrift and Copia series for which he showcases, gone out of business empty store fronts demonstrating, reflecting and signaling our current state of the economy. Alex uses subtext of his images demonstrate how far some fundamentalist religious institutions are willing to go to recruit new members and to warn their followers of the lure of the adult entertainment industry which threatens their faith.
Mickalene Thomas vs. Nadine Rovner
A retro, seventies atmosphere dominates the work of Mickalene Thomas and Nadine Rovner. Whereas Rovner captures a suburban world in a painterly, romantic fashion, Thomas takes a more urban look. She utilizes the female members of her family to revisit the black exploitation movement in an urban, sassy, yet endearing manner.
Hank Willis Thomas vs. Cara Phillips
Hank Willis Thomas uses race and social politics via iconic, tongue in cheek imagery. He is able to make fun in an enlightening manner. Thomas’ work is dominated by skin’s surface impressions, which directly contrasts Cara Phillips’ Ultraviolet Beauties. Phillips literally gets under the skin of her subjects and exposes them for what lurks beneath. Each individual is pictured in their current state, but with the exercise of ultraviolet violet on them she shows the skin beneath and reveals the traces of what will be visible on the surface as they age.
Amy Elkins vs. Molly Landreth
Amy Elkins’ Wallflower series addresses and brings out the vulnerable, and at times feminine, factor in male portraiture. Molly Landreth travels across America and encounters along the way gay, lesbian and transgender living at times flamboyant and at times quite pedestrian in the most remote and conservative regions of America.
Matthew Pillsbury vs. Kris Graves
Matthew’s sensibility travels from the most mundane and ordinary to the opulent and results in sublime imagery, great composition and surreal lighting effects. The human figure is at times present in the form of an insinuated shadow or silhouette, a reflection of how fast paced and of the moment everyday life can be to most of us. Kris Grave’s spaces suggest emptiness, at times decay, solitude, absence and the former and no longer present existence of human figures in a space.
Phil Toledano vs. Elizabeth Fleming
Phil Toledano’s Days with my Father series deals with family dynamics, the relationship between him and his father, aging and the last days of his father’s existence. Elizabeth Fleming’s Family matters deals with the life endearing facts of raising a child of her own.
Zoe Strauss vs. Ruben Natal-San Miguel
Zoe Strauss’ beat is mostly the streets of Philadelphia and America . There she chooses to photograph the harsh, raw and very real times of the underprivileged and poor. This is life as it really happens. The underbelly that few want to dive into, but most be on the forefront of the collective conscious. Yet, as dark as streets such as these can be, Ruben Natal-San Miguel finds the brighter moments. In a parallel socioeconomic area in upper Manhattan, he finds children playing, laughter, community and pride.
Jen Davis vs. Eric Ogden
Eric Ogden’s phenomenally beautiful work is populated by celebrity, glamour and the grand lifestyle in staged settings that the common man will never know, yet somehow you can see yourself there and if it was not Penelope Cruz peeking through the window, if it was Jane Doe, the scene would be as powerful, lush and tantalizing. Converse in subject, but on par in beauty and sentiment, Jen Davis utilizes self-portraits in domestic, humble, everyday settings
Michael Wolf vs. Gina Levay
It does not get more distinctly opposite then when looking at Michael Wolf and Gina LeVay. Wolf quite literally captures the lives of those living and working in the air. Suspended high above ground level, they are wrapped in air, sky and light. LeVay takes her camera underground in her Sandhogs series and brings to the surface an occupation that is a way of life. Sandhogs are miners who work 800 feet below the streets of Manhattan, tunneling bedrock to create the largest capital project in New York City’s history, the 60 mile City Water Tunnel #3. While Wolf’s subjects are in the middle of weather systems, LeVay’s might have no idea at all what is happening in the world above them.