May 1 – June 30, 2023
Artist Reception – May 25, 2023 6 to 8pm
THE POWER OF THREE
Make it different. Keep it the same. It just takes three pictures to start and confirm a pathway. There are
no winners: no bronze, silver, or gold medals. They’re all equal and yet all different. With a pathway the
next pictures are always a surprise. Sameness provides consistency; difference the accumulation that
creates chronology. The power of three can also operate with projects over time. It’s the way the
audiences we never meet get to know our work, reaching them with something new in every picture and
every new project while still being the same photographer. It’s the way we see the world that becomes
the unifier, the pathway marker. In this exhibition, seven pathways are presented with seven texts by me.
– Arno Rafael Minkkinen
We look forward to seeing you on Thursday May 25th for a celebration with the artists at Griffin @ WinCam
The Griffin @ WinCam is located in Winchester, at 32 Swanton Road, Winchester, MA 01890
The WinCam Gallery hours are Monday: 11am – 7pmTuesday: 11am – 7pm Wednesday: 11am – 7pm Thursday: 1pm – 9pm Friday: 1pm – 7pm Saturday: 10am – 3pm select Saturdays. Call for availability. (781) 721-2050
Learn more about the artists included in the Power of Three
Leah Abrahams –
LEAH ABRAHAMS – THE MISSING PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
Like a long-lost missing piece of a puzzle that suddenly pops up from under a carpet, the photographs of Leah Abrahams defy classification. Subject matter entails everything from everywhere all at once, as this year’s Oscar winner would have it. Or they could be like treasures—an isolated spoon, a teacup with the wrong sauce—from a hide-away thrift shop in Leesburg, Florida, a town filled with eclectic images around every corner, just about any random town where everything is brand new will do. Pathway? You bet. If consistency is the goal, eclecticism meets it head on because every picture will always be different and never the same. The consistency of difference becomes the Power of Three to create the pathway. If you’re always late, you’re on time kind of thing. Predictability is the formula. Repetition without repetition. Same but different. Only for that to be of interest, every image needs to grab us with its own power, be it beauty, ugliness, point of view, or whatever attribute it strikes us with. It takes a certain amount of daring and risk taking to create such islands and stand by them, trust them as Leah Abrahams does with confidence and grace.
For eclecticism to take place, discovery, and invention both play a part. The Pacific Ocean was always there; it just needed to be discovered. Invention reassembles what is known and uses it to create the new. The eclectic work of
Abrahams sits on the fulcrum of that constantly oscillating invention-discovery see-saw (see=invent; saw= discover). It assumes the past, the present, and the future are but part of life’s drive-through. And then there is that puzzle piece, so impossible to know what extends from it. Where it fits in? Where do I fit in? So, what better way to organize a response to the existential nature of one’s
universe than creating a body of work that celebrates it all?
© Arno Rafael Minkkinen, 2023
Kevin Belanger –
KEVIN BELANGER – THE EYE OF A WHIRLYBIRD
I used to think Kevin Belanger’s photographs were made by a camera without a photographer present. Instead, I now see them as framed views of a world that invite us to participate in the photograph’s creation. Like a painter who knows when to stop, Belanger brings us to such a point in his pictures as well. That’s when the image takes over, utilizing every square centimeter of information to complete the experience for us to come to the same conclusion he did. And Belanger throws the brakes on perfectly. It’s as if he waits for the moment when our wish to see what happens next is at its peak. That’s the moment to press the shutter—anticipating the viewer will have the same impulse to stop the action—don’t let that beach loner walking off take one more step. It’s done! When both the photographer and the viewer call the moment at the same time, we’re looking a keeper. It happens best when there is an active, time-based moment; be it someone sitting on a bench for hours— they could up and leave in an instant—or catching a car with the corner of his eye. Yet these are not decisive moments or decisive placements of spatial subject matter as much as they are transfers of a photographer’s vision into one that becomes our own, as if we had actually shot the picture ourselves, discovered the humor, drama, or uncanny existentialist overlaps Belanger seems to find wherever he looks. And then, for continuity’s sake, there’s the question of where the images are made. If we were to zoom out on the google map—and connect the dots they would likely create an abstraction with no heads or tails. That whirlybird process—along with the Power of Three to keep the images the same but different—may be the key to expanding their number in the months and years ahead.
© Arno Rafael Minkkinen, 2023
Mark Farber –
BUMPER TO BUMPER WITH MARK FARBER
Mark Farber brings our attention to industrial landscapes either hidden below us as we inch our way to work or home bumper to bumper, or far off from our default motorways, dotted about the coastlines of Boston.
“We are surrounded by all kinds of consumer goods, and yet we are profoundly detached from the sources of those things,” writes Canadian artist Edward Burtynsky. In effort to bring us closer to those sources, while at the same time marveling at the hyper-reality and heroic stature of the infrastructures and building blocks he finds, Mark Farber’s photographs remind us of the price we pay, meaning what the planet must bear.
His work rekindles for me the visions of the New Topographical photographers from the mid-1970s such as the Bechers, Lewis Baltz, and Frank Gohlke who also seem to ascribe to Gary Winogrand’s famous reason to take pictures in the first place: to see what things look like when photographed. Farber’s penchant for perfection, as surely theirs—thus assuring the efficacy of every given frame’s aspect ratio under disparate subject conditions—also holds the requisite need for consistency in building of a Power of Three pathway.
Commenting on Timothy O’Sullivan (1840–1882) in Looking at Photographs (MoMA, 1973, page 34), MoMA director of photography John Szarkowski, wrote: “His landscapes are as precisely and as economically composed as a good masonry wall.” For Szarkowski, O’Sullivan made some of the most enduring photographs of his time, not only in the thickets of the battlefields of the Civil War but along the rough canyonlands of what would eventually become the Great American West. Passionate documentarian that O’Sullivan was (what the war taught him I think), Szarkowski adds, “it was as though every square inch
of the precious glass plate, carried so far at so great an effort, had to be justified completely.” That predilection for perfection in documentary work, I would add, works best when the effort—such as O’Sullivan’s back then and Mark Farber’s here—is made invisible.
© Arno Rafael Minkkinen
Susan D’Arcy Fuller –
SUSAN D’ARCY FULLER – FRAMED TO BE FILMED
I was eight years old when I saw my first movie on the big screen. It was actually a double feature: Alan Ladd in Shane (1953) along with a swashbuckler, the movie playing in the freezing theater as I walked in. Before even grabbing a seat, this rapier rips through the chest of a pirate in a duel, his white ruffled shirt splattered in blood. Knowing nothing about photography other than the pictures I poured over in the family album, I imagined thereafter that every deckle-edged image held by photo corners could be viewed like a movie. I think all photos are movies on pause. I’m teaching just such a workshop this summer in Finland. Photography as Cinema it’s called. To get an idea of what such work might look like, Susan D’Arcy Fuller’s framed to be filmed images score big.
It is from this perspective—that of the cinematographer—that she discovers or runs into and creates still images that can carry not just their present moments, but their lead ups and big what’s next excitements, tensions, and epiphanies. My admiration for her eye commenced from the get-go with an image of Sue lying on a couch with her dog patiently seated on her tummy in a semi-darkened room. Just window light seeping in and a table lamp unlit nearby. What a lucky dog I said to myself as I watched the pooch rise and fall to her breathing. Or that guy standing mesmerized in front of an abandoned house wondering who just turned the lights on. Mr. Bates likely. Or then what giant mountain just popped up in the cockpit’s starboard window? Mysteries without any clues still blowing in the wind. Neither of those two pilots—call them Seger and Dylan— in thanks for the quotes, have a clue on how to avert the inevitable; just point the nose toward heaven I’d say, if the intention is to keep living. But these aren’t film stills so no spoiler alerts needed.
Why can’t still photographs morph into moving images? Was it television that robbed us of our imagination? Or that smartphone we’re wired to even in the Sonoran Desert. Bye, bye Miss American Pie. Susan D’Arcy Fuller turns up the volume and then some in photographs framed to be filmed giving thus our imaginations wings to fly and make those people dance as the Don McLean lyrics go, and maybe they’d be happy for a while.
© Arno Rafael Minkkinen, 2023
James Labeck –
JAMES LABECK – LISTENING TO WIND ON WATER
James Labeck’s recent photographs along the canals and underpasses of greater Boston might just take up in practice and function where, one-hundred years ago in Paris, Eugene Atget left off. John Szarkowski (MoMA’s director of photography from 1962 to 1991) once remarked at an SPE conference that Atget was a “pointer” who wanted to share with his viewers what he saw in a changing Paris at the time. The record of Atget’s pointing, of course, was the photograph. By contrast, James Labeck, also a pointer seeking photographs, works in the open spaces of Boston’s waterfronts and industrial lots, faced with too many things to point out or too many things too far apart. Bringing all that material together becomes for Labeck a different sort of compositional feat than Atget may have faced. And then there is the light as well, in Atget’s time and now around Boston’s outer edges —the darker, more monochromatic facades in the crowded, narrow streets of Paris vs. the wide expanses of subject matter from which to Labeck needs to organize a single memorable and meaningful whole.
How to dare this comparison? I only have Labeck’s images to make my case. As I stare individually at the three in our exhibition, the lessons of Atget are certainly at play, but more significantly, I am moved by the new visual experiences Labeck introduces like the mellow wind that shakes the tower reflections; the bottom left wall of water and the way the two water tanks, like two breasts, come into my view by the vector of the pier on left; or then, that amazing tunnel, bridge, overpass, underpass pinball arcade of light, darkness, and solace. James wrote to me (as others have done during this workshop) about a quote from Robert Adams’ Beauty in Photography that I had recommended he read. What got to him the most was Adam’s formula for happiness with photography, as he quotes: when eye, mind, and heart are aligned. I’d like to add one more pre-requisite: Listening to the wind on water.
© Arno Rafael Minkkinen, 2023
Mary Pat Reeve –
MARY PAT REEVE – ANTICIPATED SERENDIPTY
Like the bird that flew straight over the pond out of the center of the sky last week, Mary Pat Reeve demonstrates a marvelous knack for being in cahoots with nature. Rather than go searching for it, nature seems to fly to her. “I’ll bet you never saw this before,” three swans practicing synchronized snacking message her shutter finger. Or a stone in shallow water might say, “Wait and see what I become when the sun bursts out and illuminates my back.” We stare at the picture as it transforms in something out of Jules Verne, a baby whale a couple of leagues underwater suddenly pops up like a submarine. Anticipated serendipity could be the key knowing nature is always on the move. Like the swan eyeing the crow or whatever webfoot went kerplunk through the ice stepping out too far, Mary Pat Reeve’s narrative strands shift our view of nature photography from all too familiar encyclopedic classifications to marvelous storybook pages for all ages.
One might say Mary Pat Reeve’s photographs revel in a kind of supernatural anthropomorphism. She achieves this effect through narrative form by suggesting storylines for her subjects, be they stones, rivers, or feathered friends. In her work nature is endowed with a mind of its own, performing for her camera in astonishing, and often magical ways. Rather than ascribe human characteristics to nature, we might begin to think the reverse. That the wings of a bird in flight are like the wingspreads of our arms. That the divinity of humankind could use a little humility. Not a bad thing given climate change.
© Arno Rafael Minkkinen, 2023
Puiming Webber –
PUIMING WEBBER – MIND GAMES FOR THE SOUL
Matters of the spirit arrived with the birth of photography from the get-go by one of its most overlooked and underappreciated inventors, Hippolyte Bayard. It was the first directorial mode image (A. D. Coleman’s term for making an image instead of taking it) not to mention selfie wherein Bayard depicts himself as a drowned man (Le Noyé, Self-portrait as a drowned man, October 18, 1840. It was an act of revenge for having been neglected by the French Government in favor of Daguerre who actually saw Bayard’s photographs in a group show
before Daguerre was even announced as the inventor of photography. Daguerre showed paintings in that very same exhibition. In my History of Photography classes I don’t first let on that Bayard’s suicide was a fake, so the students can absorb Bayard’s grief all the better. Yes, tears have welled in some eyes even.
Inner feelings and other intangible states of being like faith and grief are not very easily photographed. Minor White and Duane Michals each worked from such sensibilities through sequences of pictures, trusting the viewer would arrive at the same conclusions as picture maker. In Michals’ Death Comes to the Old Lady, 1969, a deceased husband comes to fetch his wife out of her chair
with a long exposure swoosh. In Minor White’s Sequence 8 in Mirrors, Messages, and Manifestations (Aperture, 1969), White uses the male nude to connect land and sea at the water’s edge: Gather here departed Saints | The tide pool pitted rock | Naked and gentle to their feet | To invest themselves with flesh again.
Puiming Webber is on to another solution, working from within. A headline I wrote as a Mad Men Madison Avenue copywriter on the Minolta account went: What happens inside your mind, can happen inside a camera. It was a line that
convinced me to try and become a photographer. Puiming Webber creates a kind of White-Michals hybrid as she tackles her spiritual quest combining Michals’ narrative line with White’s single image craving for beauty. Webber trusts her viewer to find the beauty in her spirituality through the triptych mode. She invites us to become her, viewing what she views, placing the very images into our hands as well. A potentially magical alternative is in the works using three triptychs placed one on top of the other forming an immediate resemblance to a game of tick, tack, toe. The narrative form it suggests will likely allow the viewer to engage even more collaboratively with her mind game.
© Arno Rafael Minkkinen, 2023