With the New York Photo Festival in her mind, Jeanette May saw an opportunity to organize a photo exhibit at A.I.R. Gallery, where she is an exhibiting artist. Her photos are displayed along with works from Daria Dorosh and Sheila Ross under the interesting title “But that’s a different story…”. And different is the right word for this exhibition because the artworks of these three women could not be further apart. This difference is what they are going for; the press release states, “As the New York Photo Festival explores the future of contemporary photography, A.I.R. Gallery contributes the distinctive vision of women employing photography in their art.”
All three women use photography as a medium in their own way, whereas May and Ross’s works clearly are photographs, it is initially harder to detect evidence of the medium in Dorosh’s Loop series. She transforms her photos in three-dimensional sculptures, which show the front as well as the backside of the work. Both sides are interrelated by the imagery and the loops make the connection even stronger. When standing in front of them it is difficult to decide which way to look at these works, do we observe the play of shapes and shadows or rather the images in the photos themselves? They challenge the viewer to do both at the same time and that makes them more complicated but also more interesting. Dorosh’s works are not only physically manipulated but also digitally, as the images are a collage of photos, which are related to events from the artist’s life. As life keeps moving so do these works add a dynamic feeling to the exhibition, not only by their loops, but also by their irregular placement.
Ross has five slender, vertical photographs from her Cloud series in an evenly spaced arrangement on the wall. This series is decidedly disparate from her earlier works in which she would draw close to the earth’s surface, focusing on details at ground level. Now Ross shows us the world above the clouds, this view becomes accessible to everyone who steps on a plane to travel to some destination. A lot of people have seen what Ross shows us, but do we ever stop to think about this space? These photos force you to do just that, what does it mean to you?
They are more than clouds, some of them even resemble landscapes, but that is Ross’s manipulation; she inverted a few of the photos so they have been printed in negative. In terms of tonality, blue is the only bright color, while earth tones dominate, which makes the landscape sensation even stronger.
But it is May’s work that stands out, in more than one way. The exhibition features photo’s from May’s Bachelor series, images in which good-looking men are seen in their bachelor pads. Her work is clearly staged, her subject is well lit and the chosen angle gives us a chance to really examine these men without feeling embarrassed. The more so because nothing in the photo seems to protrude into the viewers space, rather the attention of the men is focused on something within the pictured room, they are passive subjects. May wants the viewer to think about a women’s gaze, instead of the male gaze which is more commonly found in art. And she gets it done, although her earlier Easy on the Eyes series evoke this way of looking even more because of their complicated narrative.
May’s photographs are the largest pieces in the show and have a glossy surface, as opposed to the matt surface of the Loops and Clouds – for that reason May’s photographs draw immediate attention when entering the room. Also, May’s work is sharper and has very saturated colors, Ross and Dorosh use softer lines and subtle tonalities.
Overall the exhibition is well curated. May’s larger photographs hang on the longest wall and Dorosh has a wall where she could be creative in using the space. Ross utilizes her wall well; her vertical photos produce a monumental impression in the way they are hung. Her sixth work shares a wall space with one of Dorosh’s photographic sculptures – Cloud and Loop complement each other and integrate the exhibition.
Finally, I think that the title of the exhibition is apropos; each artist presents us with a different vision of photography, a different use of it, a different story…