FotoweekDC wrapped up this weekend after presenting a myriad of photography-related exhibitions, talks and other related events in venues all over town. One highlight of the week is Fotobazaar, an open-call exhibition that gives local photographers free rein to curate their own solo shows.
If you’ve ever been to Artomatic, then you’ll have a good grasp of what is in store at Fotobazaar. Like the former, Fotobazaar takes place in a vacant building with plenty of wall space (this year’s location was an empty office building in NoMa donated by the JBG companies). It has the same DIY spirit, with artists hanging their works in hallways and individual offices. Fotobazaar is unique however in that it showcases only photography, providing a wide-ranging view into the contemporary landscape of the art form. Dozens of photographers signed up for the second year of this event.
Fotobazaar is non-juried, meaning any budding photographer could (for the requisite admission fee) display their work. While this lends a true sense of bonhomie to the event, the walls tended to be dominated by scenic landscapes, views of exotic locales and street portraiture. True to its anything-goes ideals, a wide-ranging degree of artistry and depth could be seen.
The following artists stood out for their originality, craftsmanship or artistic ingenuity:
Jing Lui was an immediate stand-out in the exhibition’s first room for her luscious imagery that makes your mouth water. The photographer is also a trained chef and her love of food shows in her up-close photos of nature’s bounty. While her pastry images felt more like advertising for catering, the images of bisected fruits and vegetables are pure food porn.
Like Liu, photographer Daniel Blank doesn’t necessarily break new ground in his work. That said, with images like these – so saturated in color they almost feel doctored – he doesn’t really need to. In particular the crisp cyan in Moon Over Miami (far left in the image below) elevated his travelscapes from coffee table photo album fodder to images worthy of a gallery wall.
Dominique Fierro mixes sultry and steampunk in quantities that illicit a sexy cheekiness while also creating a compelling narrative. Her tightly hung vignettes were dominated by two colorful landscapes, but it was her playful black and white images that highlighted the artistry of her ideas.
Individually, the images from Jarvis Grant‘s Citizen’s We project might not grab a viewer’s attention. The power of Grant’s images lie in the tapestry they weave across the wall, defining what it means to be a citizen of the District. Well-curated with a full, descriptive artist statement underscoring his intent, Grant elevates “simple” portraiture into a scholarly, artistic work.
The vast majority of artists featured identifiable images free of manipulation. A notable (and pleasant) exception to this trend were three works by David Bellard. Featuring spliced and dissected streetscapes, Bellard’s photos-cum-collages evinced both grittiness and palpable energy that endows his geographically-based works with emotional sentiment.
Artist and photographer Leda Black proved big ideas come in small packages. While her larger images of biomorphic forms beckoned viewers from afar, her tiny diptychs (just a few inches across) hooked the viewer’s attention up close. These small works function both as delightful studies of color and as more wry observations on the ways in which the natural and man-made worlds coalesce.
Candidly, from afar I thought Jeff Moorfoot‘s Requiem #1 was a study of rust captured on film and almost continued past it. Thankfully something got me to stop, linger and then eventually savor. Perhaps it was the texture, which up close dissolved into layers of color, or the light shadows quietly being erased from the image. As it turns out, the images capture the faint likeness belonging to a paramour of the artist, as glimpsed in the reflection of her faded, crackling bathroom tile. Moorfoot’s deft, endearing blending of abstraction with poignant storytelling was both unexpected and wonderfully contemplative.
From dozens of photographers, Robert van der Hilst‘s Chinese Interiors series was a true capstone of the show. The images, in turn quiet and powerful, elegantly captured a sense of place, but it is the artist’s manipulation of light and composition that are fully on display. Images like the Untitled work below show the influence of traditional still-life painting on the artist’s aesthetic (unsurprising given his Dutch heritage) and his ability to use varying sources of light within his compositions. The sublime images highlight photography’s crucial position within our contemporary arts discourse.