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The 2017 Photolucida photography reviews just wrapped up in Portland, Oregon and it was a feast for the eyes. I am excited to share some of the most interesting and innovative work I saw there and, for the sake of manageability, will present my discoveries in two posts. In the same spirit that “all portraits are self-portraits”, I’d like to suggest that all landscapes are also a form of portraiture. After all, they must reflect the attitudes and passions of the photographer. Featuring portraits, documentary and landscapes, I’m calling this part of my Photolucida review “The Human Landscape” and I hope you’ll see why.
The most evocative landscapes I saw captured a fragility of some kind, either environmental or our own, and if they were really special, both. This sensibility of life’s fleeting moments is embodied in Alice Hargrave’s emotional, color-shifted landscapes. The inevitable march of time is captured in the contrasts of decay versus natural splendor by Nicholas Fedak II, in the poignant signs of former life in Ellen Slotnick’s abandoned farmhouses, in the startling demise of the Florida Gulf Coast by Benjamin Dimmitt and in the dessicated pods of California plant life by Yelena Zhavoronkova.
In her quiet and affecting series Outlook, Charlotta Hauksdottir chronicles three months of her family’s daily life from the vantage point of a single bedroom window. In his nighttime series The Place To Which We Have Come, David Bernstein invokes the lives of others in luminous exterior shots while Katie Harwood’s bright inventory of curbside household goods hints at the mysterious vagaries of family life in a wealthy Chicago suburb in the series Everything is Fine Here.
The nighttime neighborhood wanderings of JK Lavin take on a moody, disoriented tone in her handheld series Mapping the History of the Moon, as do Jennifer Timmer Trails’ studies of loneliness from her series Cassiopeia. Norm Diamond’s harvest from estate sales frames the loss of precious family histories in his series and recently published book What Is Left Behind. A warmer nostalgia infuses Daniel Grant’s return to Italy, sensitively evoked in Black & White with his vintage-effect toy “Diana” camera in the series Homeland.
Honey Lazar strikes a delicately wistful tone in medium format Black & White portraits of everyone who has come to her home in the series They Come and They Go while JP Terlizzi’s incisive and unsentimental revisiting of his childhood home verges on heartbreaking in the series Mother. Ben Arnon captures a balance of pride and resignation in his evocative portraits of Latino workers in the Willets Point neighborhood of NYC that is undergoing a redevelopment that will displace them. Joan Lobis Brown finds the quiet pride of baby boomer women in her series Ordinary/Extraordinary.
It’s no small feat to make an uplifting portrait that is nuanced and sophisticated. I’d like to close with some more of such work from the photographers at Photolucida 2017. RJ Kern deftly summons a range of bittersweet emotions in children with their farm animals who lost county fair competitions in his dignifying series The Unchosen Ones. Susan Lapides lands brilliant expressions of victory over danger in her portraits of young girls wrangling lobsters in the series Crustaceans. Roberto Falck (Feature Image) indulges America’s sweetest fetish in his sensuous and unifying series Chocolate Figures. Candid photographer Jim Lustenader displays an adept eye for irony and humor in his Black & White series Streetwalking while Constance Brinkley captures the exhilaration of lovers, friends and strangers alike in Seattle’s public dance program in her series Dancing ‘Til Dusk.
Thank you to all the photographers with whom I spoke and met throughout Photolucida 2017 for enriching my life with your photography. Tomorrow, altered and abstract photographs!
Feature Image: From the series “Chocolate Figures” by Roberto Falck (courtesy of the artist).