All Women are Dangerous at Building Bridges Art Exchange
Written by Jacqueline Bell Johnson
Through February 28th
In a more enlightened time, this exhibit would be a great showcase of contemporary photography, in all of the many technical and artistic approaches and digital and manual processes. However, in light of the age we live in, the works exhibited at Building Bridges Art Exchange must be considered for all the pertinent bite and visual fire they scream to the viewer. Hence the title: All Women Are Dangerous.
Photography has a complicated legacy, starting as an inexpensive means of portraiture to the masses, then documenting the horrors and wonders of humanity, and then evolving into a way to capture reality for the purpose of abstracting it. The artists attached to this legacy are mostly men, but contemporarily the best-known photographers are women: Cindy Sherman, Cathie Opie, Annie Leibowitz.
This exhibit is arranged in these mini-collections of photography portfolios, grouped by artist. This layout forces the viewer to slow down, taking in each work in context within the series. For a viewer unfamiliar with any of these artists, the presentation of these series is a great introduction.
A series of three full-color photos of female models in front of a bright back drops make up a series from Aline Smithson. Two women with their backs to the camera flank the photo of a model facing it. This dreamy portrait in intense saturation make the model’s gaze more penetrating, her eyes pierce you as you gaze at her.
Sarah Hadley’s otherworldly juxtapositions become at once evocative of Man Ray and Hannah Hochë and yet so much more complex. These images have an intimacy about them that connects the viewer with the artist, and makes the viewer ponder the story behind the photograph. Clear high contrast layers of bodies and landscapes… the female form becomes a specific character, moving through the series.
Tami Bahat’s series is a brilliant set of images that take on the Flemish renaissance in style. These images sit in between photography and painting, with soft edges, muted tones, and focused light. The women portrayed are involved in domestic tasks, coupled with animal familiars. The works are placed in fancy carved and gilded frames, presenting these portraits as saintly icons.
Three photos of waves climbing a sandy beach are exquisite examples of landscape photography in Marian Crostic’s work. The color is very subtle, the lighting controlled, to highlight the glittering watery edges. The detailed textured capture in these waves lays against a dark silhouette of wet sand, creating a split composition that emphasizes the ephemeral.
The photogram series by Paula Riff is a surprise pleasure. Hand marbled paper is layered with a photo-sensitive solution, leaves placed on top and then exposed to the sun which creates silhouettes of those leaves. These processes limit the artist’s control over the visual outcome.
In the last and smallest room of the gallery is a table covered in loose photographs of a woman going through weight loss. These are actually self-portraits of the artist, Samantha Geballe. The viewer is invited to touch the photographs and pick up for close, personal inspection. The collection is not a story of transformation as much as the experience of the body in all of its stages. The photos are hauntingly direct and uncomfortably honest, challenging you to confront your own judgements about the body and your standards of beauty, ultimately moving past the judgements to wondering about the person. In addition to the photos is a video of the artist demonstrating her skin’s fluidity due to the loss. The way the skin moves is curious, and turns this intimate self-portrait into a work of formalism.
This exhibition is on view January 7th through February 28th 2017.
Building Bridges Art Exchange and Fabrik Magazine
Eleonora Ronconi, Sarah Hadley, Susan Swihart, Marjorie Salvaterra, Jane Szabo, Brandy Trigueros, Aline Smithson, Tami Bahat, Sandra Klein, Lisa McCord, Bootsy Holler, Marian Crostic, J. K. Lavin, Pauline Gola, Jessie Chaney, Paula Riff, Samantha Geballe
Curated by Marisa Caichiolo & Chris Davies, Co-Curated by Daniel Alfonso
Building Bridges Art Exchange
2525 Michigan Avenue, Unit F2, Santa Monica, CA 90404