I went back to see this show at Bard’s Hessel Center for a second time today. I rushed through the first time, and didn’t quite get all the amazing connections going on here.
This is a show about photographs that digs deep into their documentary value. The first and last images in the loop of an exhibit space are workers entering and leaving their factories.
In between, there is a fantastic survey of photographic imagery working on social issues. Walker Evans and Lewis Hines are here, in the context of their documentary work, and some of Robert Mapplethorpe’s sex pictures are here, too. Plus one of the flowers, because it exists.
Not everything clicks, but everything does get at this idea that pictures and ideas and politics and social understanding, at least, go together.
There is an amazing video, built around Kanye’s Ultralight Beam, that weaves a history of black culture in image and sound that challenges and undermines the very notion of integration. In the way that I Am Not Your Negro does, disdaining the very notion of accommodation.
Martha Rosler’s detournment of women’s roles in American advertising struck me, maybe because this is what I grew up with, and how I learned to distrust the media.
Here’s one of those not in the show. Go if you can.