Monday, June 4, 2012

June 4
Jess Pinkham
A Swell Way to Keep from Working...

“Or don’t you like to write letters.  I do because it’s such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you’ve done something.”   - Ernest Hemingway

Whose handwriting do you know by heart?

Jess Pinkham's show closed 18 hours ago and I am still trying to figure out how to talk about it. She photographs things. And people. And animals, events, and signs.  Her photographs come in black and white or color, vertical or horizontal. Formally speaking it is difficult for me to find and trace a common aesthetic. What her photographs possess is something rare in the age of the artist-professional. The photographs say: I don’t know what I am looking for until I see it.

But wait. There is also the fact that many of these photographs are images of something that someone else has done or made or altered. For example, there is the black and white photograph of a window on which is written Merry Crisis. The artist did not write this; she introduced it to us, the way a good host would. I think what I am saying is that the subjects seem more than subjects in that they do not seem captured by the one with the camera. The opposite seems true. The photographer seems to be the one who was captured by them.

But these photographs were only part of the exhibit, which was something between an exhibition, an event, and a get together of mostly young, creative people. Jess Pinkham's photographs skipped their incarnation as prints on a gallery wall under frame glass.  They had become postcards. Attendees--invited by invitation and with a paper sign on the street--were invited to fill the postcards out, address them to whomever they pleased, and place them in the mailbox by the door. Surfaces on which to write were provided. A desk for solitude, a dining room table to be near others. Pens were provided, as were stamps. Those who had not memorized addresses were invited to email the address to the artist.  This show was a gesture and it was generous.

In their time in front of the photographer the subjects were honored. In our time with her, we--those who came to see her work--were. I guess this is why I was asking myself whether or not I had seen an art exhibition. The exhibition is usually the moment the ego of the artist is allowed to indulge in itself. I don't know if this artist's ego showed up.

Was this art? Good art? Photography? Performance Art? Blah blah blah. After hours of asking myself these kinds of questions I just wanted to tell myself to shut up. Don't take this all so seriously. Enjoy. Something told my ego to be still. Isn't that a success?


No comments:

Post a Comment