The three concurrent exhibitions showing at Jackson Fine Art portend a story of faraway lands. Looking at George Georgiou, Andrew Moore, and Michael Kenna's photographs hailing from Turkey, Cuba, and Korea, respectively, one might expect themes of exoticism and orientalism. Though the images don't exactly shy away from politically complicated themes, a comparison of formal properties brings forward the best moments of the show.
For his series "Fault Lines/Turkey/East/West," George Georgiou spent four years in Istanbul photographing Turks. Rendered in archival pigment print, the images are distractingly fuzzy up close, yet at two meters back take on a vivid quality — the photography version of a Monet. The initial fuzziness gives way to velvety, full-bodied texture, creating an optical effect that makes objects in the foreground leap off the wall.
This effect emphasizes the distinctions between elements in Georgiou's images, and underscores the contrast between traditional and modern Turkey. In "Ishak Pasa Palace," the historic Ottoman fortress and surrounding countryside are seen from the vantage point of a café comprising an outcrop, cheap tables, and metal chairs. The carefully selected shot emphasizes the multilayered nature of the Turkish landscape, which functions like an open-air archaeological site, simultaneously revealing all the epochs of Turkey's history.
In Andrew Moore's luscious chromogenic prints, the photographer utilizes the depth and fine detail achievable through that process to create disorienting scenes of Cuba. In "Anton's Books, Cuba," a bookshelf stuffed with yellowing paperbacks is many times larger than life-size, making the collection seem doubly crowded and overwhelming. These proportions are flipped in "Cortina Roja," in which a doorway takes on a dollhouse effect due to the vividness of detail and the door's size within the huge print. Moore's "Puente de Bacunayague, Via Blanca," makes the forest seem to extend for miles below what is visible. Moore upends normal perceptions of scale and detail, causing spaces both large and small to appear infinite.
Michael Kenna's relatively diminutive silver gelatins seem precious in comparison. Scenes from China and Bordeaux, among others, presented in black and white, are studies in contrast. Kenna revels in both a crispness of line and watercolor-like effects made possible through long exposures. In "Chateau Lafite, Study 7, Bordeaux, France," the famed vineyards wash over the image in a sea of blurry gray tones, broken only by the corner of a tiled roof in the bottom left and a measured expanse of sky over the horizon. Kenna's meditative images capture the movement and stillness that hang in every moment, creating miniature landscapes with a natural, unforced vitality.
What is evident in these images is not a tourist's navigation within foreign cultures, but the measured response of expert photographers in new spaces and settings.