Andrew Moore: Blue Sweep at Yancey Richardson

Art Scene

Andrew Moore: Blue Sweep at Yancey Richardson

The physical material of a photograph, often forgotten in today’s digital age, is stunningly present in the exhibition Andrew Moore: Blue Sweep.

The images explore social, economic and cultural conditions in Alabama and Mississippi through the lens of architecture. The texture of place both literally and figuratively is expertly conveyed through Moore’s marriage of form and content. Visceral sensory experiences of aged wood, peeling paint, overgrown landscape, decay and dirt permeate beyond the photographic paper and glassless frames of each large-scale color photograph. There is no gloss, glare or glitz to interfere with what feels like a very direct experience of the history imbued within the interior and exterior spaces.

Back Room at the Harmony Club, Selma, AL, 2017. Archival pigment print. © Andrew Moore. Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery.

Other than one distant man peering out of his trailer home in a dirt swept forest clearing, and a few people immortalized within classical paintings, human beings are absent from the work. However, the presence of absence found within the people-less spaces and the disembodied subjects of the artworks hauntingly looms large in each room. The ghost of memory alludes to the histories of the spaces on view: the preserved back room of a Jewish social club; the curtained entry to a Freemason’s temple; a modest, bare bedroom; and, the library of a plantation house, among others.

Blue Sweep, Dallas County, AL, 2017. Archival pigment print. Archival pigment print. © Andrew Moore. Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery.

The rich and complicated history of the American South can be felt through the substance of well-worn objects within the photographs. There is a rawness that Moore maintains by allowing the aged-truth of each element within a space to live and breathe. These qualities stand out and may be a welcome reprieve to viewers who are constantly confronted with empty representations of newness and polish in visual culture today.

Carmen, Saunders Hall, AL, 2015. Archival pigment print. © Andrew Moore. Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery.

Blue Sweep is a follow-up investigation to other explorations of economic and socio-cultural effects on aging environments, including the decay and decline of Detroit (2007-2009) and the High Plains region along the 100th meridian (2011-2014) – a north to south longitude line that runs through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and is characterized as the dividing line between the relatively moist eastern United States and the arid West.

Pearlie’s Black House, Wilcox County, AL, 2016. Archival pigment print. © Andrew Moore. Courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery.

All of these geographic areas are part of Moore’s interest in the “inner empire” of the United States. He has also extensively covered Cuba, 42nd Street, and Russia at significant turning points in their histories. Many of these bodies of work, along with Blue Sweep, are available as monographs. However, the mood and subdued emotional tenor of Blue Sweep is undoubtedly experienced at another octave when it is seen in person – scale and materials make all the difference.

Andrew Moore: Blue Sweep is on view at Yancey Richardson through February 9, 2019.