I remember thinking that Graham’s show A Shimmer of Possibility was so amazing that I couldn’t wrap my head around how indifferent I had been to his work up until that point. It made me go back and pick up a book or two and really sit with stuff I had seen quickly, digested and thought, nope not for me. Hell, for years I’ve had a copy of his book of Asian men and engines on my bookshelf wondering why I had picked it up, even at heavy discount at the Strand. After much reflection, I can swear by Graham’s early work of dudes on the dole, some of the Ireland work. I love the graffiti on bathroom stalls and have a wavering interest in the club work and the washed out poor people pictures. But man, Shimmer was so good, and the follow up show was good, but seemed to get a more immediate acclaim than I remember Shimmer got when it was up at MoMA. It was like everyone who had missed Shimmer and now considered it as one of the seminal works of this generation were suddenly out to pay their due respects. The work was good, but a tad redundant, an and it felt like Graham was taking the newfound interest as the chance to do a master’s class on what it is to make a picture, or a more instructional and less political version of Shimmer.
Well, he is back, and by back I mean to his old ways, which is his right, I suppose. The show is the mix of three unrelated series interspersed in a creative hanging, not unlike the hanging of Shimmer. It has rainbows, storefronts in an outer borough and an African American woman or women asleep in colorful sheets. Now, I guess from the small bed and the sparse walls, the women could call one of these less than fancy streets home and the rainbows are? …. a hackneyed metaphor for a better tomorrow? I am not sure, and looking at the work, I don’t have a lot of confidence that Graham does either. There are some nice pictures, the rainbows are pretty and universally strong images. The streets and women have some strong individual images, but the repetitive nature of the series isn’t supported by the quality of the pictures and feels like a bad hangover from the Beecher-influenced conceptual series from the 90’s. But maybe he is just doing a master class on a photographic style I don’t like. Either way, it’s work of a certain quality that stayed with me for a while after I saw the show. I am pretty sure I don’t like it, but I am still interested in it.
Through Oct. 4th