Fitzroy Gallery is pleased to announce the exhibition Secession Secession, organized by Colby Bird and featuring artists Roger Ballen, Winona Barton-Ballentine, Claude Cahun, Colin Doyle, Kate Drendel, Nancy de Holl, Kyle Knodell, Deana Lawson, Leigh Ledare, William Mortensen, and Ben Ruggiero.
Secession Secession is a group exhibition of photo-based artists who combine a keen eye for formal qualities with a pluralism of technique. Through deliberate and often awkward lighting and framing methods, plus a willingness by the artist to confront the act of photographing, these artists address the reflexivity inherent to the medium.
This focus on the mythos and artifice of the studio-setup encourages a multi-layered reading of the works -- addressing the subject, the artist, and the image itself. Surrealist photographers of the early 1900s provide a historical context for many of these artists, through their presentation of the figure and the emphasis on emotion and sexuality. Many of the works in Secession Secession use the vocabulary of cinema, by drawing attention to human emotion and an often theatrical approach to the representation of reality, with an inclination toward decadent and debased subject matter. A presentation of all of the works on a thin shelf, running the length of all the walls of the gallery, provides for a reading of the images as both window and object.
The title of the show originates from the “Photo Secession” group founded by Alfred Stieglitz in the early 1900s. These artists were adherents to the Pictorialist philosophy that photographs were of equal artistic value to painting, and painterly techniques were utilized, such as scratching, toning, and otherwise altering the image. Years later, through his own practice and through his publication “Camera Work”, Stieglitz began to distance himself from the Pictorialists and put his focus instead on the value of the “straight image”. Secession Secession is a contemporary interpretation of such a departure, and a re-statement of the value and definition of the “straight” photographic image.