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Underappreciated Photos Re-Emerge for a Second Life in Philly

6 contemporary Philadelphia artists fill a gallery with bizarre, seemingly auspicious photography.

Diana Shi

Diana Shi

HL053, 2016, Gideon Barnett. Toner on bond paper, magnets, acrylic, 36 x 24 in. All images courtesy Studio LHOOQ

Six contemporary artists from Philadelphia gather to focus on a series of perplexing images, questioning their meaning in the larger narrative of history. The show, After Now, at Philadelphia's University of the Arts' Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery, examines photography that has fallen out of the zeigeist—and some that never established its place within it. It ponders the value of a stockpile of imagery in an ever-growing collection of images worldwide. What kinds of old pictures will rise to the surface, and which will experience a comeback

With a diverse range of images that tip a hat to genres of picture-taking—stock, street, and ID photos are all represented—the exhibit takes a retrospective view of images that may have previously been forgotten. In the show's description, After Now is described as grouping of "artists [who] transcend the first Image Generation that appropriated print technology (Sherman, Prince, Kruger et al.) together information trolled from the internet and more complex relationships involving private semiotic meanings.”

After Now, installation view (Micah Danges, Michael Ciervo, Kelsey Halliday Johnson, Samuel Hindolo)

After Now, installation view (left to right: Michael Ciervo, Micah Danges)

After Now, installation view (left to right: Micah Danges, Samuel Hindolo)

After Now, installation view, Gideon Barnett

After Now, installation view (left to right: Gideon Barnett, Michael Ciervo)

Affording a prominent focus to Gideon Barnett, a Philadelphia-based artist with a Master’s of Fine Arts from Yale University, the show finds its stride examining a buried past. In Barnett's most recent piece in the show, the artist concentrates on old microfilm and found photos, randomly discovered and holding seemingly no definitive historical significance. 

Isabel Lederman, a researcher for the gallery, talks of the details of Barnett's process of working through library archives and drawing out strange, unrelated photos. She shares the artist's development process: "After curating a selection of images, [Barnett] sends them to print on a wide format Xerox that is connected to the film reader. The images print in rich, heavy black inks, a drastic alteration from what he sees on the [archival] microfilm. His focus of working in archives and libraries provokes the current state of institutional values supported by the NEA and NEH and how a society not only accesses information but also the varying degrees to which institutional values may or may not reflect those of the broader culture."

Subglobular Microclere Spicule, 2016, Gideon Barnett. Toner on bond paper, magnets, acrylics, 36 x 24 in

Schenk, No. 1776, 2016, Gideon Barnett. Toner on bond paper, magnets, acrylic, 36 x 24 in

Bronze sacrificial wine vessel of ancient type, 2016. Toner on bond paper, magnets, acrylic, 36 x 24 in

After Now shows at Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery until February 28, 2016. To find out more about the show and artists, here

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