Thursday, May 8, 2008

What they did at art school

"Video installation by Jacqueline Arias," Photo by Tim Connor, All rights reserved

Quick impression of Parson’s BFA in photography show at Calumet Gallery: These kids are not taking any chances. Admittedly, I only looked at maybe half the pieces, but these seemed to be all about technique. That aspect was often formidable, as you might expect. But with few exceptions their points of view & content bored me.

I noticed that nearly every picture of people contained one or more nude women. These young women were, each in her way, beautiful -- effortlessly sensual . But after looking at a few, I found myself asking: isn’t it actually unfair to depend on an instinctive biological reaction to make sure a picture gets looked at? Granted, it’s a sure fire strategy. At the very least, every heterosexual male, no matter how civilized & art-minded, will look long & closely. But the truth is counterintuitive. Showing naked women guarantees interest & imparts an avant-garde, even risqué ambience, but in fact -- unless it takes us somewhere new -- it’s a safe, even conservative choice.

I guess I’m getting too old to put up with the time-honored “look how decadent we were in art school” aesthetic.

I went to the show because I was invited by an old friend, Jacqueline Arias [Thompson] --( on fotolog she called herself ticaphoto). I’m happy to report that her video of a movement piece she made was the most interesting thing I saw at the show. Projected from overhead onto a lenticular piled dirt frame on the floor, the images seemed to shift & writhe in the dirt as though they had been created there.

Congrats to Jackie, who's now a bachelor(ette) of fine arts!

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