New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

Where in the World
Norman Borden
Lauren Greenfield

Photographs usually tell us something. Or they don’t. Pace MacGill’s summer group show, which features 32 images by some of photography’s most iconic names, wants us to consider a photograph’s ability to convey a sense of place, or as some of the images here demonstrate, a lack of one. The images in this somewhat uneven summer show, which includes work by artists ranging from Arbus to Winogrand, are either in the travelogue genre or of a more conceptual bent that ask viewers to question what exactly is it that they’re looking at.

For example, Duane Michals’s six image series entitled “I build a pyramid” shows the artist building his “pyramid” in front of what looks like the ancient originals. It’s quintessential Duane Michals who has managed to single handedly alter the landscape, at least temporarily. So where are we? Is this still the land of the Pharaohs? Then consider the photograph by Lauren Greenfield entitled, “A showgirl models fashions on an airplane, Las Vegas, Nevada.” Clearly, this disproves the chamber of commerce slogan, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” If we’re not in Vegas anymore, where are we?

 by unidentified photographer.
Harry Callahan

There are other images, by Nicholas Nixon, Lucas Samaras and Richard Misrach that may be more oblique, obtuse or more relevant to what the show’s conceit is all about. What is Nixon trying to tell us with his landscape—a small patch of grass entitled “Brookline” which apparently refers to a mall in Brookline, Massachusetts? Has commerce obliterated nature? Lucas Samaras transforms a very ordinary bathroom by painting it with color. Is it art or just a cool toilet?

Gary Winogrand’s fish in mid-air at water’s edge of makes us wonder how it got there? Did it jump at the right moment? Or did a fisherman just throw it back and Winogrand happened to be there to grab the shot? Harry Callahan’s portrait of his wife is almost invisible—framed by blackness. Where is she? What is the photographer hiding?

There are other more straightforward images in this show, by Arbus, Frank, Walker Evans— they are what they are. And that’s not a bad thing.

Take a tour of “Where in the world” and see where you end up. If nothing else, you may see some familiar images in a new light.

Where in the World

Pace/Macgill Chelsea
534 W 25th St.
Chelsea         Map

212 929 7000

Thursday, July 8 to
Friday, August 27, 2010
Hours: Tues-Sat 10 to 6