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San Francisco Chronicle Review: Unphotographable at Frankel Gallery

Posted By Administration, Friday, January 11, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 2, 2014

Through March 23, 2013

[[1]]This ambitious survey explores a movement in photography and a desire by artists to investigate beyond the limits of traditional perception.Unphotographableis comprised of about 50 works by well known artists, including Alfred Stieglitz, Sophie Calle, Man Ray, Glenn Ligon, and Gerhard Richter, and also draws on imagery by anonymous and unknown photographers. Photography easily engages that which is concrete, but even at the dawn of the media artists realized that photography had the ability to go beyond normal perception, that it could indeed be used to perceive that which our eye could not. All of the images in this exhibition engage this exploration of perception and "parallel history" of the media.

The works are haunting and often teeter between belief and disbelief. Frankel Gallery was thorough to engage the many strands within this tradition of photography. Some images engage the theme in a litteral way, seeking to capture apparitions and other supernatural phenomena. Others play with perception, photo chemistry, or employ rephotographing. Others still hit more emotional nerves and stand to prove that which has been done can not be undone. Three works that poignantly engage terrible even inconcevable truths include Christian Marclay'sSilence (The Electric Chair); Gerhard Richter's September, an image of the twin towers smoking; and Malcolm Browne's sequence Self-Immolation of Buddhist Monk Thich Quãng Ðuc. What these works capture is concrete, true, yet so horrific that they continue to defy comprehension. These images work in ways that transcend the status of image image and as unphotographable subjects approach the status of symbol.

San Francisco Chronicle Review

Learn more at Frankel Gallery

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