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If you can, try to imagine encapsulating the relevancy of contemporary photography in one show. Now try representing that in 24 images and 2 videos. Chicago’s Filter Photo has tried nothing less in “Context 2015”, the inaugural exhibition for it’s brand new gallery, “Filter Space”, in West Town.
From abstract to representational, fact to fiction, miniaturized to oversized, these images juried and curated by Michal Raz-Russo, Assistant Curator of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, are by her own accounting “a group of works that are subtly interconnected and yet incredibly diverse.” Since there is no unifying exhibit theme, the submissions themselves guided the jurying process, resulting in a real-time view of what’s pertinent right here and right now. “Context 2015” is an apt title for the configuration of this bold show.
Each artist seems to address the complex, often overwhelming world in which we operate today. Some of the photographers in the show have juxtaposed disparate elements or entire images in order to construct– and sometimes de-construct – scenes that offer their personal or cultural commentary. In a way, this is the aim of all art, but it looks different in each time, place and space. And photography, with its unique technological component, gives this show special immediacy.
Interestingly, many of the photographers draw on the idea of sentimentality for the past to inform their work. The paired works of exhibition winner Tal Barel, whose sterile, B&W image of a taxidermically preserved wolf mounted to a bare wall accompanies an equally artificial-looking mountain panorama mounted onto wood paneling and sandwiched into a corner of some starkly-lit exhibition space, describes a terribly disrupted and disjointed existence. In contrast, Jane Fulton Alt’s portrait of the delicate skeletal remains of a burnt and ashen plant isolated against a patch of ground, Alice Hargrave’s subtle and engaging nighttime stare into a stand of mangroves, and Jay Turner Frey Seawell’s whispering, sparkly, B&W snowfall, all summon us to enter into the life cycles of the natural world.
Also on view are a number of decontextualized pieces taking very different forms. The brightly colored cacophony of Emilie Gomez’s “Tourism fair, Brussels” is met with the calming palette and spare composition of Matthew Crowther’s pensive “White T”. Though opposite in both approach and in the feelings they evoke, both artists seem to be searching for a sense of place or belonging.
The photographs in “Context 2015” are richly layered, both visually and conceptually. Offering a range of imagery from provocative to serene, viewers are treated to a slice of time and place that not only exemplifies the pulse of photography, but serves as a fitting introduction to Filter Space, Filter Photo’s new gallery presence on the Chicago art scene.
This exhibit will be on view through March 27, 2015. For information, directions and hours, go to: http://www.filterfestival.com/context-2015-2/
Filter Photo is now conducting an open call for exhibition proposals at Filter Space, welcoming photographic proposals of all types, whether traditional or experimental, or coming from an emerging curator or a veteran artist. Filter Photo hopes to attract a broad range of proposals that reflect the creative diversity of the contemporary photographic community. The deadline for proposals is Monday, April 13th, 11:59 PM. For more information about this exciting opportunity, go to: http://www.filterfestival.com/exhibition-proposals/
Feature Image: “Rainbows” by Anastasia Samoylova (courtesy of the artist and Filter Space, Chicago)