Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Phillip Pisciotta, East Harlem @ As If Gallery

The show consist largely of photographs where groupings of people on streets of East Harlem are paused in formal freezes, where large dogs, tight shorts, and cigarette packs all play a role in the ever enjoyable act of people watching. The tone throughout the work is sweet, but to Pisciotta’s immense credit, it is never romantic, just a very genuine enjoyment of everyday street life with all its oddity and wonder. They only shortcoming is that, at times, the pictures don’t provide enough narrative potential to satisfy the natural desire to make sense of the disorder of the every day. There are glimpses of expressions and gestures that begin to open up a greater insight, but often the images fall just short, leaving us with only the temporal enjoyment of looking at people as they go about their day.

Where Pisciotta really shines is when he removes people from the motion of their lives long enough to form portraits, like the shirtless man soaping himself up under a large bare branch backed by portraits of black heroes on a striped wood exterior wall next to a refrigerator with two American flags fluttering in the top of the frame. The picture not only transforms the urban experience but relocates it into another more spectacular realm. A place of subway bongo players, barbers, and everyday New Yorkers become more triumphant, a place that is apparently as Pisciotta at his best informs us is in plain sight if only we noticed.

Through April 30th
As If Gallery (529 Manhattan Ave., Btw 122nd & 123rd Sts.)


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