by Darla Jackson
Project Basho - Onward '08
January 10-February 24, 2008
Onward '08, an exhibition on view at Project Basho through February 24th, features the work of 57 emerging artists. This was the first show I've seen at the photography resource center located in Kensington and after getting over the disbelief of its location ("It can't be there...there's nothing right there!"), it turned out to be the perfect introduction to the space, with this exhibition really showcasing the broad range of possibilities that photography has to offer. There was a wide variety of work in every aspect, from processes to subject matter...even the framing techniques were varied. Juror Andrea Modica really did a nice job giving us a lot of things to look at without feeling overwhelmed.
I personally found myself connecting most often with the photographs that seemed like the artist was communicating not only visually but emotionally with the viewer. One piece that really felt this way for me was Sheep in hoods, an inkjet print by Meg Birnbaum. The sheep, usually submissive animals, felt more like bizarre executioners as they gazed out from under their hoods. The vignette around the photo adds to the mystery of the piece, as if maybe the viewer is obscured from their line of sight but they can sense that someone is there watching them.
Another image with this effect for me was The weight of days, an inkjet print by Chris Vivier. The piece very simply and very beautifully shows the effect of burden and time, using the worn down arm of an armchair. The chair reads as very human to me and I found myself really relating to it, despite the fact that it was, in fact, a chair.
A nearby photograph that also caught my attention was Before the coming, Brian, an inkjet print by Jessica Roberts. The quality of light in this photograph made this image of a young man in a room with peeling, graffitied walls a really beautiful and sensitive piece. The pose, the bare mattress and the setting all raise questions of his place in this awkward stage of life.
The Tea Party, an ink jet print by Laura Graham which is framed in a weathered old window frame gives the impression that the viewer is peering into the window of a bizarre place where the animals host secret tea parties. Graham builds the sets herself and orchestrates the characters, forming strange, yet beautiful scenarios. She usually works in black and white but I think the use color in this piece really allowed the viewer to see all the details she painstakingly tended to.
There are so many more wonderful pieces in this exhibition that it is definitely worth the trip to Kensington. Gallery hours are Monday - Friday 5:30 - 10:30 pm and Sunday 12 - 10 pm. (Don't be fooled if the roll down gate is closed during gallery hours. Just knock on the door and someone will come let you in.) If you can't make it there, at least check out their web Gallery for the show here.
Program director Tsuyoshi Ito is doing a great job and I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes next. Welcome to the neighborhood Project Basho!
[Darla Jackson is an artist living and working in Philadelphia, as well as a member of The Other Woman Collective]
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