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NYPH09 Hit and Miss

May 20, 2009

I went to the NY Photo Festival last weekend and have been holding off on blogging about it all week. The reason is two-fold.

(1.) I didn’t think the exhibits at the festival were particularly fabulous and (2.) I had a great time there.

I was promoting NYPH09 on earlier posts because I like the idea of it. NYPH could potentially represent the state of contemporary photography. Yes, there were some strong pictures exhibited, but they were not exhibited well. I don’t feel comfortable complaining about the bad framing, the bad lighting or the bad installations in general. I’ve participated in many low budget shows and NYPH09 actually gave me some ideas about exhibiting on the cheap. Unfortunately, “cheap” was not the only installation issue. Joerg, over at Conscientious, mentions the blatant offense awarded Simon Roberts’ photos in Jon Levy’s mostly powerful Home For Good exhibition. Simon’s photos were among the best, and the best framed, in the group show. Unfortunately, they were hung in a dark gallery corner and over couches in a lounge area, and worse, they were placed between bright exterior windows so you could only really see them at night. I had friends who went to the exhibition and totally missed his excellent work.

In general, NYPH was a great experience in a great location (East River waterfront) with lots to see. Fortunately, most photographers have tunnel vision when it comes to looking at work, so odd installation decisions were not an overriding issue. Tim Hetherington had two very strong bodies of work represented. In fact, he gets my “Golden Palm” for his three screen installation presented as part of Home for Good. The ABC News cameraman and Vanity Fair contract photographer, Hetherington, used sleeping soldiers in Afghanistan as the fulcrum for experiencing the emotional hell of war.

Tim Hetherington's Installation View

Tim Hetherington's Installation View

You can see by the extraneous crap lying around the performance area for Tim’s brilliant multi-screen presentation that installation was not the high point of NYPH09.

Hetherington’s Liberia show and book is also amazing.

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