Denver's MoP now sprawls over several months, with exhibits, lectures and other events centered on photos and photo-based works of art. Although there's an unbelievable number of MoP shows around town right now, there's no official exhibit serving as the main attraction. Inevitably, the shows that Sink himself curates have come to be regarded as the de facto central exhibitions, including Delirium, Three Visions, currently at RedLine.
For this unofficial “official” event, Sink recruited young photographers George P. Perez and John Lake to co-curate the show with him. Some of the artists they chose are up-and-coming Colorado photographers, and a couple of them are RedLine residents. They found several while studying trends in contemporary fine art photography and looking at exhibition catalogues and books, while others were discovered on Instagram. Photographers from around the world are represented, some with international reputations. The co-curators all chose their own rosters, and then the three points of view were mashed together. As a result, the show has no clear through-line or narrative, but it works as a compendium of new directions in photo-based work.
A similar effect is seen in the photos and artist-books by Kit Ramsey that take on the street life of Philadelphia, where he lives. Junkies are a big part of the story, with one photo depicting a close-up of an addict’s arm with the hypodermic needle still attached; in another, a pal of the artist's is seen shooting up in the foreground. In one shot there’s even some levity, if you can call it that, where a dildo has been ceremoniously placed in a tree that hangs over an outdoor shooting gallery. Like Kenneally’s images, the Ramsey photos are composed in such a way as to exploit the inherent beauty of the depicted forms, with an inspired sense for framing, which is conceptually undercut by the dark and disturbing subject matter. They are fabulous.
Conversely, being insubstantial is the defining characteristic of a photo by Micah Danges that’s been printed on cloth mesh and hangs from a rod sticking out from the wall; the piece laps over itself so that two parts of the image are seen at once, in a double layer that produces a moiré effect. Depicting plants and a plastic device of some kind, it’s delicate, lyrical and fairly Rauschenberg-ian. The density of the double image is in complete contrast to the artist’s nearby black-and-white monochromes, which are characterized by their blankness and flatness. Also trading on flimsiness is Magali Duzant's deep-blue cyanotype banner with watery imagery that hangs to the floor. Owing to the nature of cyanotypes, the photographic image taken from a slide continues to develop during the run of the show, so the viewer catches it as it is being made. Duzant also links back to the show's archive angle with a set of simple notebooks concerning the word blue as expressed in various languages.
Since Delirium is not tightly organized, many pieces may seem like non sequiturs, but are strong contributions to the whole, anyway. The set of crudely altered still-life photos by Gregory Eddi Jones are among the standouts. Taking appropriated images of vases with flowers, Jones employs digital painting programs to “draw” over them in a childish style, using Crayola colors and printing up the results. The grid of inkjet prints have been tacked to the wall around a shelf with a booklet perched on it.
Considering that it’s meant to be a celebration of MoP, it's amazing that so few examples of traditional photography are included in this show.
When I walked through it with the three curators, Sink told me that after fifteen years, he's stepping away from his MoP leadership role. He wants new voices, he says, which is why he worked with Perez and Lake on this exhibit. For the next rendition in 2021, Samantha Johnston, the director of the Colorado Photographic Arts Center, will be in charge. “To continue to grow, MoP needs to be monetized, and it definitely could be, but I can’t do that, because I don’t know how,” explains Sink. “But CPAC and Samantha have shown that they can.”
Delirium, Three Visions, through April 7, RedLine, 2350 Arapahoe Street, 303-296-4448, redlineart.org.