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Posted By Administration, Friday, May 16, 2008
Updated: Monday, January 13, 2014

Anyone with even a slight interest in contemporary photography should go to Dumbo for the New York Photo Festival this weekend. Organized by powerHouse Books and VII Photo Agency, the event is not to be confused with the more familiar type of art or photography fair in which scores or hundreds of galleries show their wares in separate booths. It focuses on a small number of distinct, thematic exhibitions, each organized by a different curator and displayed in a different space in the waterfront area of Brooklyn, under the Manhattan Bridge overpass.

The festival's core consists of four shows. Most traditional is a 10-artist show called "Chisel," organized by Kathy Ryan, photo editor of The New York Times Magazine. Ms. Ryan selected artists whose works relate to painting or sculpture. Horacio Salinas's large, black-and-white, high-contrast pictures of found tire treads isolated against white backgrounds, for example, evoke Abstract Expressionist painting. Alejandra Laviada goes into abandoned buildings, arranges objects that she finds into sculptural configurations and makes formally elegant photographs of her constructions.
Martin Parr, the well-known British photographer, organized "New Typologies," a display of eight artists who, following in the footsteps of Bernd and Hilla Becher, photographically catalog types of objects or people. Jan Kempenaers has documented amazing abstract, Brutalist sculptural monuments constructed in Communist-era Yugoslavia, and Jan Banning creates large color portraits of government bureaucrats at their desks in countries around the world, from Russia to Bolivia.
The two other shows address the circulation of photographic images outside the museum and gallery system. Tim Barber offers "Various Photographs," a selection of 300 framed, paperback-size prints downloaded from his personal online gallery, on which he displays photographs submitted by professionals and amateurs. Favoring a snapshot aesthetic and ranging from goofy to sublime, the show is addictively entertaining.
Lesley A. Martin, publisher of the book program at the Aperture Foundation, organized "The Ubiquitous Image," a presentation of works by nine artists and one artists group who manipulate and recycle found and appropriated anonymous photographs. A wall covered by 2,100 pictures of sunsets downloaded from the Web site by Penelope Umbrico is spectacular.
The festival also includes more than 10 satellite exhibitions. Among them, Archive of Modern Conflict, a London group, presents works by three emerging Chinese photographers; and the photography agencies Atelier Reflexe and Cobertura Photo offer "E.U. Women," a selection of sociologically pointed works about European women.
By Ken Johnson
For The New York Times

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