Over the last few weeks, I have been able to absorb myself in many of New York’s exhibitions and events, mainly in the field of photography. At almost any given time, This city offers a multitude of things to see and do, usually more than a person can handle.
I was able to take advantage of the last showing of IF ONE THING MATTERS – A FILM ABOUT WOLFGANG TILLMANS by Heiko Kalmbach at the Anthology Film Archives. For those of you who are unfamiliar with AFA, It is an international center for preserving and exhibiting film, and houses cinematic treasures from nearly every time period and genre.
IF ONE THING MATTERS provides an intimate look at Photographer Wolfgang Tillmans’ working methods, as well as, the man himself. Many scenes feature the German born Tillmans talking nonchalantly to camera as he works or rests in his studio in London. Other dynamic scenes show his very “hands on” and unconventional approach in directing the installations of some his major museum exhibitions. The film also provides a clear view of Tillmans working through his first music video for the band Pet Shop Boys.
The most interesting facet of this film, I find, is the concentration put on this Photographer’s unique processes, in everything from editing, installing, and even interacting with his fans and the media. Tillmans puts an immense amount of importance, not only on the way an image is shot, but also how that image compliments other works and other surroundings when exhibited. This is a great insight to explain why Tillmans is one of the most celebrated living photographers.
I also recently had the honor to attend the International Center of Photography’s latest triennial exhibition DRESS CODES. The selection of photography and videos displays the global range of ideas in the genre of fashion photography, as well as, the themes of identity, affiliation, and the role garments and the fashion industry play in our society. Each artist makes bold statements about the implications of appearances, from something as political as a uniform to something as uniquely self-expressive as a drag queen’s party attire.
Another must-see photographic exhibition currently on display is LOOKING IN: ROBERT FRANK’S THE AMERICANS at the MET. All of Frank’s iconic images are currently showing in their appropriately beautiful silver gelatin print form. This project is a social document portraying post WWII America from the perspective of an outsider, a Jewish Swiss national. This work was initially seen as Anti-American, because Frank unveiled the juxtaposition between America’s economic classes, and the inequity that existed amongst the races. This was not Frank’s single purpose in this commissioned experiment in capturing “all things American”. Many of the prints uniquely display the American experience: Americans at work and in leisure, and the vastness and diversity of this massive country. I particularly liked his subtle, yet powerful, use of the American flag in his images. There is not doubt that this body of work carved into the perception of the American identity, and helped foster certain social changes.
Anthology Film Archives -
International Center of Photography-
The Metropolitan Museum of Art