"In contemporary photography, large-format color work tends to dominate the discussion, leading some critics to dismiss black and white work as decidedly retro and fundamentally irrelevant."
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Black and White photography is either faddish or simply dated. Wait is that thinking too black and white; there must be shades of grey and what about that missing color? One current exhibition After Color, now showing at Bose Pacia, suggests that the artists in fact "employ conceptual black-and-white photography to strengthen their ideas and how such usage comments on the dominance of large-scale, color photography as seen in the contemporary art world over the last 25 years."
The title of this exhibition prepares the viewer for the thought process which curator Amani Olu desires. With the usage of the title "After Color", the viewer is subconsciously forced to think of the implied state of Color, and consequently think also of the implied before Color, which cyclically leads us back to black and white.
Historically and obviously the usage of Black and White was simply a result of technological constraints. In the post-modern world of art it is important to think of the effect of using Black and White photography. This specific exhibition with the work of a variety of artists, all with differing stylistic personas tied together solely through their neglect to color, initiates a dialogue beginning with what becomes of photography After Color.
What becomes apparent within the show is how freeing it is to look at images without having the layer of color to contemplate. The lack of color gives your mind one less thing to process, which allows for a deeper inspection of subject matter, texture and lighting. This result can be compared with the phenomena of heightened senses compensating for other depleted senses. Some scientific tests would allude to the validity in saying that hearing loss can often lead to keener vision, and vice versa. Perhaps the same is happening here; in essence the artists are taking away a "sense" and necessitating the strengthening of others. However, just as there is no guarantee if you incur blindness your hearing will improve, there is no guarantee that freedom from color will necessarily heighten your experience of the image.
It's as plain as black and white, you should go see if you vision improves when you become colorblind.
Hurry the show closes Friday!
Curator Amani Olu has pulled together nine contemporary artists who work with black-and-white photography and photo-based imagery. Their styles vary radically, but they all have a conceptual bent and very little interest in traditional photography. Some of the most interesting work—Talia Chetrit's hard-edged, computer-generated geometries; Matthew Camber's expressionist chalkboards; Arthur Ou's violently splattered seascapes—flirts with or actively engages abstraction. Stephen Gill's witty still-life studies mine the sculptural potential of discarded betting slips, and Adrien Missika, shooting the Grand Canyon through a tourist telescope, discovers ghostly new planets suspended in the void. Through Aug. 21. (Bose Pacia, 508 W. 26th St. 212-989-7074.)