The Whole Show

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Gelatin Silver Photograph On Button Mount 9 Inch Round © Charles Swedlund
The Whole Show
Curated by: Adam Holtzman

4426 N Ravenswood
Chicago, IL 60640
May 5th, 2012 - June 24th, 2012
Opening: May 5th, 2012 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Other (outside main areas)
Friday & Saturday 12 PM - 6 PM
photography, conceptual, landscape, surrealism, figurative


Alibi Fine Art is pleased to announce The Whole Show, an exhibition of photographic works by Charles Swedlund.  This is Swedlund's first solo exhibition with the gallery.

In the early 1970s, photographer Charles Swedlund sought an alternative to the rectilinear format that corresponded with traditional print photography.  With continuity in mind, Swedlund experimented with an 8mm fish-eye lens that lent great depth, fullness, and strangeness to his subjects while also preserving the integrity of an image that was round from the moment of exposure onward.

As Swedlund remarks on the works he made with this method, he notes that, "The photographs of  my former wife, Elizabeth, with the exaggerated curvilinear visual quality of the fish-eye lens, eliminate any doubt about her pregnancy.  The photographs of my daughter (Heather) create an effect that she is not bound by gravity, but that she is flying or floating in space.  The human form and its relationship to its environment have a different feeling of proportion and presence than is normally seen.  The combination of the round, lawn-ornament mirrored-glass globe, with its inherent 360 degrees of coverage, along with the 180-degree coverage of the fish-eye lens, produces a dimension that is not possible with normal vision.  I especially find the landscape photographs, with space going forward and backward simultaneously, to be very interesting."

An ardent collector of photographica, from the historical range of early daguerrotypes to the lowly ephemera of contemporary advertising, Swedlund was interested in making very physical and perceptually uncanny photographs.  A hybridization of these motivations was made manifest by this body of work from 1971-73 in which Swedlund mounted his round photographs onto 9-inch button forms.  These buttons, which can be wall mounted as a kind of classic tondo in the tradition of Parmigianino's Mannerist painting Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror, or worn on a lapel as one would a political candidate or a novelty, stretch not only the dimensions of two -dimensional space, but also the boundaries of high and low culture as they merge.

The Whole Show is comprehensive of Swedlund's 1971-73 project and consists of twenty-five images.  In addition to the 9-inch set, Swedlund has also created limited-edition 1 ¼-inch button sets, complete with pin-backs and packaged in a canned sleeve.  In this miniature form, one could purchase "the whole show," and even wear it if desired.  This exhibit is the first time these works have been displayed in over thirty-five years.

A catalogue of The Whole Show is available, published by Anna Press and 2054 Press.