A friend of mine told me a little while ago that there are two kinds of photographers (I’m paraphrasing this a little bit). There are photographers who obviously are photographers and who show in photography galleries, and then there are photographers who, even though they are photographers, usually aren’t really seen that way and who show in art galleries (just so people don’t misunderstand this: galleries that show different media and not “just” photography). I would put Florian Maier-Aichen into this latter group.
I was looking forward to seeing Maier-Aichen’s current show at 303 Gallery, because he is one of the few artists who very actively push the boundaries of photography: what it is, what it means or might mean, and what it can or could do. I hate to say this, but the show left me extremely disappointed. It’s never a good feeling when you emerge from an art gallery thinking “So what?”
Most disappointingly, I never even figured out why I was so underwhelmed by the work. On show were huge prints of landscapes transformed by various means of digital manipulations. The prints were shown under for my taste overly reflective glass - which in combination with the fact that some of the images are predominantly black basically turned several of the art works into huge mirrors. I don’t mind seeing myself in a mirror, but I don’t necessarily want to do that in an art gallery.
That aside, the
photos art works simply didn’t work for me. First of all, I think the prints were really too big. Yes, there can be such a thing as “too big” a print. Second, whatever transformation the artist was after seemed to be a bit fuzzy or maybe flimsy to me - while the technical transformation of the photos was easy to spot, the artistic one… I’m just not so sure. The press release (which, btw, contained more baloney than your average New York deli) unfortunately didn’t help me making sense of the show, either.
Of course, I might just be too dense for this work.
What maybe really irked me so much about the show was that somehow I was under the impression that someone was trying to make this all look like much more than what it really was.