‘ANTHOLOGY: SOMEWHERE NOT HERE’
Sometimes in this world we are confronted by situations that suffer from the triumph of packaging over product. My example today is the exhibition “Anthology: Somewhere Not Here,” a group show of photographs and videos on display through Saturday at Crosstown Arts. Curated by Tommy Kha, a photographer based in Memphis and New York, the exhibition is loosely centered on vague themes of “the acts of their journeys — seeking, feeling, and finding through passages of time and space,” a credo that could apply equally to self-help books and the regrets of middle age.
Nineteen artists are involved, and their photographic images are presented in small format to suggest postcards and drugstore-developed snapshots, so the exhibition carries the aura of ready-made nostalgia for a world that began to fade two seconds ago.
The images are not matted, framed and hung on the walls with adequate lighting but are affixed to little rectangles of dibond — a lightweight construction material consisting of an inert core between thin sheets of aluminum — and set on narrow ledges about chest height on the wall, depending, naturally, on how tall you are.
This format means visitors can pick up the pieces and look at them closely, which they will have to do, because, since videos are also displayed, lighting is kept low.
A quality of anonymity pervades the exhibition because no information about the artists or titles can be found in proximity to the pieces. You have to pick up a sheet by the front door in order to follow along with artist and title (if the sheets are available), though when I visited Through Saturday at Crosstown Arts, 422 N. Cleveland. Visit crosstownarts.com. Crosstown Arts, the images did not quite conform to the arrangement on the list. If you wanted to be really mischievous, you could totally rearrange the photos standing on the ledges and pedestals, and no one would be the wiser.
If what we expect from an exhibition of contemporary photography and video is a procession of isolation and displacement, anxiety and dread, evanescence and ennui, of shedding illumination on the unreality of life’s inconsequential niches and corners, then “Somewhere Manal Abu-shaheen, “View From Hotel Window,” 2016. From “Anthology: Somewhere Not Here” at Crosstown Arts. Not Here” is a prize-winner. If, on the other hand, we expect any hint of impulses new, creative, spontaneous, witty, wondrous and insightful, then this exhibition fails at all points. The problem lies in its utter conformity to a now-universal style; you could find similar images in similar exhibitions all over the world. Someone needs to kickstart new life into all those art schools.
A similar complaint arises from the videos on view. With one exception, they are too long, poorly edited, didactic and ill-conceived. That exception is five short — I mean 2½ to 3½ minutes — videos by PIMO, a collaboration of Pixy Liao and Moro Magario. What a blessedly light, blithe and humorous touch they have in depicting human relationships and foibles and our feelings about ourselves and our bodies in images and music, all while retaining a sense of merry innocence.
At some point, months
Johanna Case Hofmeister, “After the Assassination,” 2016. or years ago, the conception for this exhibition must have seemed like a good idea — “We’ll make the photos really small, like on postcards!” — but the result doesn’t work at any level. Wanting works on paper (or dibond) to be mounted in traditional format and lit so they can actually be seen may be bourgeois, but, you know, I’m just a middle-class kind of guy. Annesdale Park Gallery, 1290 Peabody: “Charted: Natural Studies by Michael Francis Reagan,” through Oct. 12. Opening reception 6-8 p.m. Friday. Watercolor maps from around the world (both of today and yesterday), along with the artist’s “Bird Journals.” 901-208-6451. theannesdaleparkgallery. com Café Gallery at Playhouse on the Square, 66 S. Cooper: Jimmy Crosthwait: “Mazes, Marionettes, Zen Chimes, and More,” artwork. Friday through Oct. 23. David Lusk GalleryMemphis, 97 Tillman: Hamlett Dobbins: “I Will Have to Tell You Everything” and Peter Fleming: “Preserved,” through Oct. 8. Art Talk at 11 a.m. Saturday. Gallery hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. 901-767-3800. davidluskgallery.com MCA Gallery at Playhouse on the Square, 66 S. Cooper: Wesley H. Ortiz: “El Espacio en Medio” (“the space between”), Friday through Oct. 23. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday, and on show nights. mca.edu The Salvation Army Kroc Center (Junior League of Memphis Art Hall), 800 East Parkway S.: Ann Fitzgerald and Marty Parker artist reception, 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Thirty percent of all purchases benefit The Salvation Army’s programs. 901-729-8007. krocmemphis. org. Southside Gallery, 150 Courthouse Square, Oxford, Miss.: Jerrod Partridge: “Which Wert and Art” (“What Was and Is”) and Lucius Farmer: “Fire Water Earth,” two concurrent solo exhibitions, through Oct. 1. 662-234-9090. southsideartgallery.com. Tops Gallery, 400 S. Front: Dan Torop: “Law of Dissipation,” through Oct. 16. Opening 6-8 p.m. Friday. Photographs. 901-340-0134. topsgallery.com.
Dru Donavan, “Untitled,” 2014.