White Columns is pleased to present ‘Incomplete’ a solo exhibition by the New York-based artist Robin Graubard.
A former freelance news photographer Robin Graubard’s work, over the past thirty years, has explored and blurred the boundaries between documentary and autobiographical narratives. In earlier series Graubard documented aspects of the early 80s Lower East Side punk scenes and the nocturnal hustle of a then still dangerous Times Square. Working in and around the margins of socially marginalized groups – during her freelance years she photographed John Gotti and his immediate circle – Graubard occupies a hard-to-define position in relation to her subjects. As the title of her current exhibition suggests there remains a sense of the unresolved at play in both life and in art, a nagging sense that something is always occluded, something that remains unsaid.
For ‘Incomplete’ Graubard has repeatedly visited the Massachusetts town of South Hadley to photograph its citizens going about their daily lives. In early 2010 this otherwise unremarkable town became a focus for the world’s media after a local girl, Pheobe Prince, committed suicide after becoming the subject of a sustained campaign of bullying at her high school. The resulting media furor continues to this day – as evidenced by President Obama’s March 2011 speech about the endemic culture of bullying – as do the still-to-be-resolved trials faced by those accused of being Prince’s tormentors. This ‘unresolved’ or ‘incomplete’ narrative lies at the heart of Graubard’s project. In her images she records both the ambient aspects and quotidian events in a town that is forever changed. A town whose immediate future will be inextricably associated with a private tragedy that crossed into the public domain.
In Graubard’s recent work – and consistently over the past thirty years – the grey area of adolescence has always occupied a central role: As evidenced by the inclusion of a sequence from Bresson’s 1967 film ‘Mouchette’ in the exhibition. In her current body of work this uncertain emotional and psychological state comes to the fore, albeit in images that remain both elusive and non-judgmental. To accompany the exhibition Graubard has created a xerox publication – also called ‘Incomplete’ – that functions as a coda to the exhibition itself, exploring and making connections between the events in South Hadley and the larger forces at play in Graubard’s constantly evolving project.
Robin Graubard lives and works in New York. She received a BFA in 1977 from NYU Film School. In 2010 she had a survey exhibition ‘The Hold Up’ at Participant Inc., New York that juxtaposed aspects of her work from the past thirty years. She has shown her work previously in solo exhibitions at Momenta Art, Brooklyn (2005) and ‘The Doll Hospital’ at Anthology Film Archives, NYC (1998). Group shows include ‘Open Walls’, White Columns, NYC (2005); ‘Indigestible Correctness I’ curated by Rita Ackermann & Lizzi Bougatsos, Participant Inc., NYC (2004); and “Rocks and Trees” curated by David Armstrong, Photographic Research Center, Boston, MA (2001). She has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes. Her photographs have been published in The New York Times, Paris Match, The Guardian, Time, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, Die Welt, Berliner Morgenstern, The European, Unicef, International Rescue Committee, and others. In 1976, Graubard produced, directed, and edited a film of The Talking Heads and The Ramones, which was presented in ‘The Hold Up’ at Participant Inc.