If all of the coming summer group exhibitions are as good as this early bird, we'll have reasons to stay in town.
The show signals its ambitiousness in its title, borrowed from a roundup
of new-talent photographers organized by Edward Steichen in 1953. Yet
to call the work of the 16 young artists at Higher Pictures
photography seems iffy. It doesn't touch what is salient about Letha
Wilson's Hug Grand Tetons a wall sculpture with a photograph encased
in concrete, or Aspen Mays's little constellation of punched-out holes
in photographic prints.
Basically the artists here are taking whatever genres they want and
bending them, photographically, to their will. Ann Woo's colored Sunsets are abstract paintings without the paint or the name. The
Brightness by Jessica Labatte looks like a cut-paper collage,
photographed and blown up large.
Carrie Schneider presents a nocturnal landscape with an eerie story
locked inside, while Kate Steciw puts the great outdoors through a
high-speed blender, as Yamini Nayar does in domestic interiors packed
with leopard-skin patterns and half-seen running figures. There's
portraiture, sort of: the men in Erica Allen's Gentleman series are
strictly cut-and-paste. And there's one example of overtly political
work, in LaToya Ruby Frazier's photolithograph of a fund-raising letter
for a community hospital that she hand-annotates with critical comments.
Historical references crop up, to Duchamp
(in Talia Chetrit's Abstract Nude), to minimalist sculpture (Jessica
Eaton's Cfaal 35), and to digital art of the future (in Andrea
Longacre White's Pad Scan 10). So does performance. In two videos by
Cortney Andrews, bodies move; in Polaroids by the artist team of
MPA+Katherine Hubbard, bodies pose, but with wearable props and
appurtenances so inventive as make this work a species of fashion
The point is, there's a whole lot of hope-inspiring activity going on
here in Higher Pictures's two teensy rooms. Maybe if downtown brings
itself uptown to take a look, Chelsea's wide-open, ex-garage spaces will
offer something more appealing than air-conditioning in the weeks