Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mark Steinmetz, South @ Yancey Richardson

It is very enjoyable to get to see this much Mark Steinmetz in one place. I am not sure I remember him getting such a Chelsea showcase before. He is a legend for photographers of a certain bent, especially after the series of books on the south published in the late 2000’s. His work paints the world, and as the case may be, the south, in a light that seems right out of a more sedate David Lynch or Coen Brothers movie.  There are landscapes, still lives, storefronts, all sleepy and waiting for something to happen. Often that something is one of Steinmetz’s many portraits of people feel at ease in how interesting they look, young teens becoming aware of their own sexuality, men looking like the weight of existence is pushing down on them and, surprisingly, in the current show, more children. There’s even a sweet picture of a toddler wrapped in a blanket resting under a tree in some delicate dappled light.  Steinmetz’s pictures of the world are photography as I’ve loved it. They make me feel that I am not out in the world enough, that I am not spending enough time wandering, talking to strangers and experiencing the life around me. The world as brought to view by Steinmetz’s lens is a compelling yet familiar world that I can almost imagine I have experienced and I hope to come across again. It is also just a pleasure to see a couple of pictures that have for the last decade lived with me mostly in a history of photography slide lecture that I give once a semester.

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