Define Kafkaesque: A Deliciously Moody From Moscow With Love at PDNB
|Valery Samarin, Untitled 2012|
|Finger and Anspon's recount of Moscow had us all on the next jet out of DFW.|
As always, Finger had us wrapped around his ... well, let's just say, he's an engaging speaker.
PDNB hosted a disturbingly beautiful show in early March called BORDER dealing with the infamous drug wars in Ciudad Juarez, and, true to form, its follow up strikes nerves that viewers have likely not accessed in decades. However, Moscow is more subtle, requiring a bit more work for a similarly (gloriously) disturbing payoff.
I'd circled the gallery a number of times before narrowing on the particular photographs that would stay with me for nearly a week. (Perhaps it was the bit of vodka in my Moscow Mule that helped open my eyes?) Initially, I was most drawn to Valery Samarin's series of untitled photographs that, in collaboration, compose "The Poem of the Fork."
|Valery Samarin, Untitled, from Poem of the Fork|
I see the world primarily in narrative. Images, design, philosophical ideas are, to me, only atomic portions of a more moving mode of artistic expression. This is, of course, a purely individualized perspective, and no disrespect is intended toward visual artists and musicians; I do not, for a moment, presume to be "correct" in my aesthetic. But, for me, the narratives I experience become part of me and my own narrative. Emblematic of particular emotions, they emerge as cognitive tools to describe my experiential understanding of the world, life, humanity, and so on. Samarin's fork series, while composed of highly designed, minimalistic elements without an immediately obvious "story," evokes an incredibly literary sensation, the same feeling one might indulge while reading The Castle or The Trial. Stylistically, they match the images I've developed reading these pieces, and as a result, they become in my own mind a continuation of the thoughts and feelings I've experienced through the work of Franz Kafka, a sensation as inexplicable as it is inextricable.
|Gregori Maiofis, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," 2006|
The photograph features an elderly clockmaker busily tinkering with a pocket watch, surrounded by clocks. I suspect I glanced at this photo five times or more before realizing that, just behind the clockmaker, while I he continues his day with seemingly little chagrin, a television set presents the Twin Towers aflame.
Aside from a handful of casual trips, I have no real connection to New York; neither would I be reasonably be called "patriotic." But, that image is chilling - particularly on a bromoil print, a 19th century technology, and surrounded by timepieces and the aged clockmaker. I doubt anyone first viewing that photo, at least those seeing it without a spoiling discussion such as this, can deny at the very least a sharp intake of breath. In fact, when Finger pointed it out to the crowd, it was clear that many hadn't yet noticed it. Onlookers gasped. Audibly.
|Gregori Maiofis, "House is burning, clock is running," 2007|
But, lest I impart the wrong impression, it was not a groan of disdain at a cheapened use of an emotional image in order to elicit undue emotional reaction. It is not a cheating moment, no flimsy trick. It is executed in a manner that is riveting and eye-opening. My fellow viewers were simply - before my own eyes - reliving a very real moment of "shock and awe;" the same emotion they had likely felt nearly eleven years prior. The image moves something, somewhere deep. Something not a mere "American" experience and that is difficult to discuss in any language.
See these and works by five other spectacular Russian photographers hand-picked by Burt Finger for From Moscow With Love, running through through July 28th at 1202 Dragon St.