Art Review

Artbeat

The adage about too many artists spoiling the installation is exemplified by a collaborative piece -- done by several of the co-op's members and by faculty from Metro -- on view in the front space at Edge Gallery (3658 Navajo Street, 303-477-7173). Thank goodness John Davenport's compelling solo, 1+1=1: More in Camera Diptychs, is ensconced by itself in the center space.

Ostensibly a photo show -- Davenport is, after all, a photographer -- it's also an installation that completely commands the room. Davenport has created a scene and placed his newest photos within the contrived setting.

On the walls are diptychs in which images are paired to suggest narratives that are both obvious and obscure. Each set of images was done separately on the same piece of film. Several have an anti-war mood, like the one featuring a toy soldier and an oversized pair of tin snips. Others are more ambiguous, such as "Black and White" (above); although Davenport says it's about racism, it's hard to see that in the piece itself.

There are also stacks of photos on pedestals, including recent additions to the artist's notorious and censored series based on Rodin's "Kiss." In the middle of the room is a table set for a formal dinner. Davenport has placed some of the objects in the photos on the plates, because he says he's interested in the disconnection between actual things and their depiction in photos. (How hermeneutical!)

Raising even more issues about the nature of photography is a large-format five-by-seven camera on a wooden tripod that faces the table. (Hermeneutics again!) The camera has a split back that blocks first one half of the lens and then the other, allowing two images on separate halves of a single frame. Davenport used the split back to create the photos in this show, which is how he did the two images without using double exposures.

Davenport's strong solo outing will close this Sunday, September 5. The good news is, that's also when that dreadful installation up front comes down.

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Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia