Curatorial Project 9 - "SOMETHING + NOTHING"
"SOMETHING + NOTHING”
A 40 year retrospective of photography by Stephen Shore
curated by Todd Levin
Sprüth Magers London
26 November 2013 - 11 January 2014
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Stephen Shore’s photographs of ordinary America have had an extraordinary impact on photography as an artistic practice. The artist sets the standard for colour photography of the social landscape in his best known bodies of work "American Surfaces" and "Uncommon Places," pioneering two of the most important photographic idioms of the past forty years; the diaristic snapshot and the monumentalised landscape. Shore’s art of pictorial composition and handling of colour, light and shadow also spurred interest in colour photography and for the first time gave it an unchallengeable status as a genuine artistic medium. In 1972 Shore embarked on his first road trip around America, focusing his camera on the immense diversity of the suburban landscape; anonymous intersections, residential architecture, uniform drive-by diners, generic motel rooms and monotonous gas stations. Embracing the work of
the Conceptual artists of the 1960s who adopted the photographic medium as a tool to make systematic, often compulsive explorations of locations, Shore too began to assemble a sequential visual record of his travels in which the singular photograph was only significant in terms of its place in the series. His images are now seen as classic Americana; culturally rich snapshots showing the tempo, palette and artifacts of the time and place. The artist’s recent works in both digital and film, illustrate a continued interest in documenting the social landscape. In images captured during his visits to Israel, Abu Dhabi and Ukraine in the last four years, Shore's photographic eye similarly directs us to markers of time and of change, capturing the quotidian, a sense of locality and signs of cultural and temporal drift.
The exhibition at Sprüth Magers London approaches Shore’s oeuvre taxonomically; the images organized categorically rather than chronologically, by subject matter rather than series. Works from the artist’s early and recent series are removed from their original groupings and arranged side by side in an exhibition context for the first time, identifying an ordered criteria and an aesthetic approach which has remained largely unchanged over time and location. Seeking to show objects in their ordinariness, Shore does not so much narrate in the image as provide the evidence for the audience to construct their own narrative.
- Todd Levin 2013