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Let me tell you why I adore Chicago’s Filter Photo Festival. The combination of portfolio reviews and events, along with a handful of carefully chosen workshops, makes this Festival truly rich in offerings, without being overwhelming to its participants or surrendering its distinctive personal ambience. Their special recipe keeps a stellar cast of reviewers and presenters returning for the Filter experience each fall. The 2015 Festival just ended and my mind is whirling with all the creative work I saw there. After conducting portfolio reviews again this year with Paula Tognarelli, Executive Director and Curator of the Griffin Museum of Photography, I have come home inspired by the offerings of talented photographers from sea to shining sea. To the photographers I met, thank you for the opportunity to view and discuss your work. In today’s and tomorrow’s blogposts, I am pleased to present some of the most promising work I saw at Filter Festival, from artists you’re sure to be watching in the future.
From the abstraction of a bullet hole through a target to the unsettling focus on crowds gathered around acts of brutality, the socio-political aspects of violence are being addressed in unusual ways. In his series Hail, Garrett O. Hansen constructs images from bullet holes – enlarged single shots as well as abstracted images from a hail of bullets pummeling the human-form targets used at firing ranges – balancing their overt destructiveness with his act of creating photographs that are at once alluring and terrifying. Krista Wortendyke grapples with issues of violence locally and globally in her series, Intervention, manipulating found images to effectively shift the viewer’s focus from the terrorized to the brutalizers in an unnerving exploration of how such violent images shape our cultural memory and personal experiences.
In a study of both national angst and readiness, Adam Reynolds examines the diverse ways that Israelis have re-purposed bomb shelters throughout their country, sometimes using them as dance studios, pubs, or worship halls in his series, Architecture of an Existential Threat.
Architecture is interpreted far differently by Matthew Bender, who employs clever juxtapositions in his interpretive landscapes of the gentrifying Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia in his series named for its metaphoric underlying creek Cohocksink. Bob Bright’s urban Los Angeles work is shot in contrasty, tactile B&W, utilizing compositional repetition, reflection and angles so extreme that the images suggest an austere otherworldliness. In Everything is Fine Here, Katie Harwood revisits the suburban Chicago neighborhood of her youth during the annual one-week ritual of spring cleaning. Her images of immaculate homes offering up their discarded contents are a decidedly sociologic take on the ideas of collecting and decay, consumerism and value. David Wolf explores the parallels between the collected and the discarded with poignant elegance in his series The After Life of Things, wherein he uses different types of expired photographic papers to portray the items he finds left behind by others. The serendipitous color shifts, fogging and stains characteristic of the papers prompt the viewer to consider the photograph as an object, while alluding to history and memories.
In METRO: Scenes from an Urban Stage, Stan Raucher captures the candid emotions and interactions of ordinary people riding metro systems around the world in B&W images that are nothing less than an ode to urban community. In a tribute to the ephemeral nature of home and family, Alice Q. Hargrave photographs at the cusp between lightness and darkness, underscoring the passage of time by evoking “moments on the periphery” of hectic everyday family life. In her series Paradise Wavering, she explores emotions, memories and moods in the genre of vernacular family photography, weighing the cerebral and the visceral with delicacy and sophistication.
To learn more about Filter Photo Festival, go to: http://www.filterfestival.com/
Feature Image: “Untitled (Expeditions)” from the series Paradise Wavering by Alice Q. Hargrave (courtesy of the artist).