PDN Photo of the Day

Context and Subtext

Two very different, though thematically similar, new shows opened at Foley Gallery last week: “SUBTEXT” by Wyatt Gallery and “3rd Rail: A Site-Specific Installation” by Clay Patrick McBride. McBride’s installation takes over the gallery’s large storefront windows. His black-and-white images [Slides 6-9] of NYC subway riders are wheat-pasted on boards, adding texture to the work. The installation takes over the gallery’s large storefront windows, almost replicating the narrow, and sometimes dark and chaotic commute on the subway train itself [Slide 10].

Inside lie eight large format pieces from Wyatt Gallery’s show “SUBTEXT.” “By photographing found advertising spaces in the New York City subway where advertisements have been temporarily removed, torn posters, paint, graffiti, and glue applied repeatedly over decades are revealed,” Foley Gallery said in a statement about the work. Two of the pieces in the show are collaborations with Hank Willis Thomas. Gallery credits Thomas for pushing him to dig below the surface to find the real “subtext” of the photographs.

Gallery wanted to push the boundaries of traditional photography by using UV prints on Dibond aluminum. In this process, the ink fuses with the Dibond, creating a three-dimensional look to the otherwise flat photograph, imitating the look of actual paint or torn paper.

Gallery, who spent time in Sri Lanka documenting the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, has been drawn to what he calls a “form of beauty that can exist within destruction, but more importantly an inner beauty and resilience that is born from hardship and exists beneath one’s seemingly perfect outer shell.”

“What really excites me about this work [Slides 1-5] is that I have no control over what the wall looks like or the composition” Gallery told PDN via email. “I just record what’s already there, right in front of our eyes. In a way, it’s really ‘unmade’ or readymade street art. It’s also the closest I’ll come to being the painter I always wanted to be.”



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