This essay was recently posted in the Mikhail Zakin Gallery:
Artwork often tells a story. It can pluck a story from external reality, render homage to a tale that is commonly known, or even give life to an internal reality, as yet unknown to anyone save the artist. Works in this show celebrate narrative of all kinds, from the timelessness of moral struggle in the works of Henry Diebel III to the story of an object passing through flame in the work of abstract photographer Mike DiFeo. Even the quiet story of a street in Rome can unfold as witnessed by a patient observer in the work of Allison Remy Hall.
Aliza Augustine presents her chimerical photographs from the series “Is it Safe?”, where personal, historical and invented narratives collide. Behind the dollhouse vignettes of her photographs loom a foreboding backdrop of images, some found, some from family history, of those who survived or were murdered in the Holocaust. The unclear line is highlighted between scenes of socio-political commentary, personal history and events staged to deal with the confluence of the two.
Vesper Stamper is perhaps most literally a story teller, with original illustrations on view from her upcoming book. While part of a composite text-illustration work, the images include a story of a mute mother who introduces the world to her daughter through sound, touch, and movement. Part of the message is that information comes to us through many senses. The unconscious mind experiences the world in secret, awakening to mysterious insights that are known deep down.
These insights are shared through many avenues, as in the video works of Saya Woolfalk. Woolfalk describes a world of intuitive aesthetic choices, in which a journey takes place that leads to a point of personal and communal understanding. Such is the goal of her ongoing Institute of the Empathics project. This endeavor is undertaken on another scale by presenting a collective visual experience of work by multiple contemporary artists in the Mikhail Zakin Gallery.
Works in this show push and pull on the narrative limits of image making, telling a more subtle and nuanced tale than text alone can convey. I challenge you to look at the images and devise your own story before reading the accompanying texts.
- Mary Gagler, Curator