Friday, February 17, 2012

Stephen Hilger, Hotel California @ Muse Center of Photography and The Moving Image

A very enjoyable body of pictures that covers all aspects of the closing and demolition of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The pictures are clear and straightforward. Hilger uses close-ups of fungus on a old carpet, interiors of an empty concert room, exteriors of ivy in front of the hotel, people playing soccer while the skeleton of the half demolished hotel hovers in the background, even vintage 8x10s documenting the famous people who visited the hotel. The show covers everything you could ask for in a photography show documenting a place. There is even a wonderful shot from a building overlooking a fair taking place on the hotel’s unused grounds. To keep the work from coming of too straight forward, the exhibition has some rather nice installation elements, like a large photograph of an abandoned, carpeted corner of the hotel resting on the floor in a corner of the gallery. Combine that detail with the shelf of gold-covered books about the history of the hotel and the choice to paint the whole gallery black with strong spotlights on the photographs, and you have the feeling that you are wandering the hotel’s abandon halls. An overall sound and well-done show.

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