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New Photography at Brooklyn Academy of Music

Art Scene

New Photography at Brooklyn Academy of Music

Quiet as it’s kept, Brooklyn Academy of Music’s legendary annual performance event, the Next Wave Festival, has had a contemporary art component for 15 years. This year’s Next Wave includes the exhibit, New Photography. One of five visual art exhibitions or site-specific installations located throughout a variety of BAM spaces, New Photography is the only group show of the five selections. The show features the work of photographers Lee Arnold, Ellen Carey, Sheree Hovsepian, Brittany Nelson, Liz Nielson, Mariah Robertson, Paul Anthony Smith, Quinn Tivey, and Max Warsh.

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Lee Arnold, Blow Up

Overall, the exhibition leans toward the abstract. However, its primary tension rests in the interplay of photographers who focus on the manipulation of images in a digital context, versus those who have returned to analog processes as subject matter and tools for abstract and painterly expressions.

Several images play on form, using rectangles, squares and circles to create patterns and visual sequences that elude to motion, long exposures, or multiple frames within one print. Processes are not always obvious, and offer viewers a bit of a photographic puzzle to unwind.

The luscious color in a pair of analog chromogenic prints on Fuji Flex harkens back to the days of pre-digital photography and a sense of color yet to be obtained through technological means. The prints, by Liz Nielsen, titled, Venn Sunset Over Dark Forest and Planet Slices, resonate with the deep tones of a bluing night sky and a fading hot deep orange sunset. Essentially abstract compositions, the works hint at objects in a distant universe and remain a mystery even after a close look.

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Lee Arnold, Oculus

The work of Lee Arnold, still in the land of the abstract, is a bit more comprehensible to the eye. Using digitally rendered circles and degrees of opacity to overlay straight forward images of trees in a landscape, Arnold offers an interesting new take on the landscape photo. The four images on view are described as photo-collage, ink jet prints at the size of 24×36 inches. It is hard to figure out what is so pleasing about the images, but most likely it’s the combination of traditional forms – lines, circles and rectangles – in consort with serene autumn-like landscape images that induce a sense of order and calm.

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Mariah Robertson, 247

The most painterly images in the exhibition are two one of a kind images by Mariah Robertson that use chemical treatment on RA4 paper. The images, titled 247, at 67×50 inches, and 121, at 108×72 inches, appear to reflect the gestures of a painter’s brushstroke. Purple, yellow, red, hot pink, white and shades of blue mix and mingle in 247, and offer two different views. Up close the repetitive forms in the image look similar to the edges of 35mm film, however, at a distance the photograph could be mistaken for a painting. In 121, cool color tones with splashes of yellow move across the surface of the images in drips, organic lines and indecipherable stroke styles uniquely shattering boundaries between the mediums of painting and photography.

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Mariah Robertson, 121

New Photography is on view through December 23 in BAM’s Natman Room and the Diker Gallery Café in the Peter Jay Sharp Building, with limited viewing hours in the Diker Gallery.