In a fundraising effort on World AIDS day on Decmber 1st 2010, several celebrity tweeters including Daphne Guinness, David LaChapelle, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Alicia Keys, and Justin Timberlake declared themselves digitally dead until $1 million was raised to support Keep a Child Alive, a charity that provides food and medical care to children with AIDS in Africa and India.
Andrew Bush, Man drifting northwest at approximately 68 mph on U.S. Route 101 somewhere near Camarillo, California, one evening in 1989, color print, dimensions variable.
A DeLorean, gull-wing doors ajar, sits on the rack at the mechanic’s. Its vintage California license plate insists: NOW. Yet the image (Matthew Brandt’s Aluminum, 2008—a LightJet print mounted on aluminum, no less) has the unmistakable dull sheen of an already obsolete future.
Curated by artist Matthew Porter, this tightly packed group show takes its name from the didactic 1951 film starring Ronald Reagan. Porter’s selections bring to mind another reference point: “Ronald Reagan and the Conceptual Auto Disaster,” a subheading in J. G. Ballard’s 1968 pamphlet “Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan.” As it poises the 1980s between midcentury optimism and current malaise, the exhibition has something of Ballard’s chilling erotics of catastrophe. The show achieves a kind of fetishized, polished stasis: the DeLoreans in the shop, for one, but also James Welling’s black-and-white print of a vehicle being jump-started (Jump, Averil Park, New York, NY, 1995) and Andrew Bush’s striking photos from 1989 of motorists driving classic cars. These last have long, elegiac titles that make poetry of technical description. In one, an old man “drift[s] northwest at approximately 68 mph,” “somewhere” in California, “one evening in 1989.” The subject is frozen in time, bathed in golden light, yet “drifting” with terrible velocity.
Like Reagan’s films, Porter’s show has plenty of sententious moments—Moyra Davey’s photo of vintage audio equipment (Receivers, 2003), Brandt’s print of dead bees rendered in bee parts (Bees of Bees, 2008), or Matthew Spiegelman’s blown-up photogram of a marijuana pipe (Glass Pipe Transfer 9, 2007)—as if to say this is the decade(nce) America asked for, and then some. In Mark Wyse’s Untitled Landscape, 1998, for example, the sprinkler system of a coastal SoCal villa battles a brown hillside for a moat of green lawn. Yet even where the works are blatant, they are also astute, as when Spiegelman photographs portions of the 35-mm filmstrips of trailers for ’80s teen flicks Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer. Against white backdrops dappled by the shadows of potted plants, the strips suggest the arrested, glossy motion of a Reagan-era adolescence—a past this show and its coldly nostalgic images are still working through.
Galleria Carla Sozzani presents Versailles by Robert Polidori: an exhibition entirely focuses on the powerful beauty of the Palace of Versailles. A selection of 35 large-scale photographs that Robert Polidori captured over a span of twenty-five years addressing the conservation of Versailles, the lavish palace outside of Paris which was home to the kings of France until the French Revolution.
Robert Polidori approaches the restoration and revision of Versailles in a similar method as his past photographic projects. He continues the idea of presenting the interior of a room as a means of insight into the soul of those who inhabited them. Polidori believes that a room's interior communicates the values and ideas of its inhabitants and its details on the walls present the way that the person intended themselves to be viewed. Unlike the earlier projects of Hurricane Katrina and Chernobyl where these interior spaces were captured after a disastrous event, Versailles is presented over 25 years of restoration. Each room is presented in rich detail, conveying layers of its history of the many occupants throughout time. With its constant revisions by Louis XIV and his predecessors as well as the restorations, Polidori is able to reveal a rich layering of personalities and ideas.
With this body of work Polidori challenges the idea of restoring the palace to its original state. For Polidori, Versailles is not so much genuinely old as a constant re-fabrication of the old in order to keep the past alive. Polidori states "With Versailles, I had the opportunity to witness museum restoration but I realized what was really going on was historical revisionism. What does it mean to restore something? It means to make something old new again… When you choose to restore a certain room as it was in a certain period, the period you chose is based on your contemporary worldview."
Robert Polidori is a master of special esthetics and composition, his pictures are complex still lifes, which, in their colorfulness and unique quality, provide a backdrop for the imagination of the beholder. In the peaceful stillness and the detailed nature of his pictures lies an exceptional force.
Robert Polidori was born in 1951 in Montreal, Quebec. He is considered one of the world's leading architectural photographers. His photographs of neglected and estranged cities including Chernobyl, La Havana and New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina have received world wide acclaim. He is the author of several books, most recently Parcous Muséologique Revisté, an epic three volume collection of his Versailles. He has been awarded the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Magazine Photography in 1999 and 2000 and the World Press Award for his coverage of the Getty Museums construction in 1998. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker.