Concurrent with Carleton Watkins, Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present Another West, curated by American photographer Richard Misrach. Comprised of work by eleven established and emerging artists, the exhibition surveys contemporary approaches to the Western landscape, and offers a counterpoint to Watkins’s sublime vision. While Watkins was at times employed by railroad and mining companies that were transforming the land, the artists here use a variety of strategies to reveal the consequences and aftermath of the American concept of Manifest Destiny. Included in the show are works by Johnnie Chatman, Lewis deSoto, Mercedes Dorame, Mishka Henner, Nancy Holt, Zig Jackson, An-My Lê, Meghann Riepenhoff, Ed Ruscha, David Benjamin Sherry and Tabitha Soren. By presenting wide-ranging responses from artists with diverse backgrounds, the show illustrates shifting echoes of established traditions.
Carleton Watkins’s nineteenth-century photographs helped describe and define our notions of the American West. His work recorded early practices of mining and other human-impacted landscapes, but most notably a wilderness beauty like no other. The artists in this show present a different West, or perhaps more accurately, eleven different Wests. From Nancy Holt’s 1972 color series “California Sun Signs,” to Lewis deSoto’s performance-driven long exposures, to Mishka Henner’s appropriated and digitally-composited satellite images of oil derricks, these artists employ photographic strategies and technologies unimaginable in Watkins’s era of the black-and-white mammoth plate. Most significantly, these artists of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries call our attention to what the West has become.
Richard Misrach, (born 1949), has been photographing the American West for more than 50 years, and is perhaps best known for his ongoing series “Desert Cantos.” His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Art Institute of Chicago; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Centre Pompidou, Paris, among others. His work has been featured in more than a dozen monographs, including Telegraph 3 A.M.; Bravo 20: The Bombing of the American West; Crimes and Splendors: The Desert Cantos of Richard Misrach; On the Beach; Destroy this Memory; Petrochemical America; and Border Cantos. He is the recipient of numerous awards including four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship.