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|The Opening: 06-07/|
Kings of Cyan: 30 August - 18 October, 2008
We’ve been carrying faces of leaders in our pockets since at least the Ptolemies, closer to our crotches than almost anyone will ever get. I can draw Abraham Lincoln’s and George Washington’s profiles perfectly from memory—even writing this from Rome, I can feel their diverse American noses under my thumb. Contemporary politicians aim for repetition rather than proximity, pasting their faces on city walls and underpasses, hoping to fix their images in our memories. But printing a poster and minting a coin do not have the same staying power. The dyes in inexpensive CMYK offset printing can be fugitive, with rain and snow and sun tending to swallow the magenta and yellow dyes first. The cyan dyes stay. After a few months, these full-color images look like ghosts of themselves, still standing in some eery twilight, trying less to reach us, and more desperately to just be seen.
When I first noticed this faded blue, I thought of it as the blue of disappearance, of atmospheric perspective in Netherlandish painting taking the landscape back, back, into the infinite. It reminded me of the ectoplasmic blue of faked séance cyanotypes, a naked blue never intended to be seen alone. But in its universality it became more sinister, more like Bataille’s Blue of Noon, where the light of the midday sky is seen as a sign of the inevitable slip into the darkness of perverse tyranny. For although the politicians seen in these pictures espouse a full spectrum of political positions, from Communist to Neo-Fascist, their ideas fade even faster than the ink they are printed with.
Portraiture remains, its tropes and aspirations. This generation learned from Jimmy Carter. Their smiles are the subtle smirks that Archaic sculptors figured out could make their rigid marble figures look alive. Their poses and clothes are as conventional as Baroque popes’. The lighting hardly eclipses your average passport studio in subtlety or invention. And yet, through this fence of conventions, a sense of self shines through. You see in their faces a desire to be seen, a giddy stroke of ambition here, a smirk there that says I can’t believe my luck, a squint that is trying too hard. There are hints of fear and rage. “Portrait” comes from the Latin, portrahere, to draw forth, and though no photographic portrait can really capture anyone’s inner essence, (cameras see only surfaces), these guys emit will. They may be all surface, but their surfaces —faded, degraded, familiar, scraped away— have something to say.
Illilluminations : 14 septembre - 04 novembre 2006
Galerie Edward Mitterrand is pleased to present the most recent series by New-York photographer Tim Davis. Illilluminations. will be his second personal exhibition at the gallery. It will gather about 20 images shot for the past two years
Here are a few lines written by Tim on this body of work:
“The classicists who write photography textbooks dutifully translate "photography" from the Greek as "light writing." It was Cervantes who saw translation as “the back side of a tapestry,” and in the case of photography’s many translators, most have been staring at the wall. In photographic language, light is read as grammar; as an aesthetic tool, helping the artist describe an apprehended visual world. I am pursuing a visual world where light is syntactic; light veering close to content. In all my work light is cultural and political. It is put there by someone, for a purpose: to invite citizens to share their money with corporations, to keep workers working, to describe democracy, to allow paintings in museums to be seen in one particular way.
“Tim Davis was born in New York in 1968. His series « My life in Politics » is currently exhibited at the Chicago Contemporary Photography Museum.