The Unphotographable

Last week I visited the Fraenkel Gallery to see “The Unphotographable”, a group of images curated by gallery owner Jeffrey Fraenkel with an accompanying publication by the same name. A mixture of historical whimsy and contemporary experimentation – the show is a superb example of how a medium, critiqued throughout time for its mechanization, can be highly experimental and obscure. The chosen images, in my opinion, celebrate what we love about photography, uncovering what the human eye simply can not see alone. The exhibit is on view until March 23, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 10.02.40 AM“From the moment of its invention almost 175 years ago, photography has proven adept at depicting the photographable: the solid, the concrete, that which can be seen. A red ceiling, a beech tree at Fontainebleau, a young man in curlers, a box of ripe peaches—such things are the very stuff of photography, and the desire to hold on to them is the same impulse that led to the birth of the medium itself. But another tradition exists, a parallel history in which photographers and other artists have attempted to describe by photographic means that which is not so readily seen: thought, time, ghosts, god, dreams. The Unphotographable clothbound catalog published to accompany the exhibition is comprised of approximately 50 photographs by anonymous amateurs and artists as diverse as Diane Arbus, Robert Adams, Sophie Calle, Liz Deschenes, Kota Ezawa, Adam Fuss, Man Ray, Christian Marclay, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Richard Misrach, Alfred Stieglitz, and Hiroshi Sugimoto.” – Fraenkel

Kenneth Baker of the SF Chronicle reviews many of the works on view in “The Unphotographable,” examining their teasing reassurance:

So “The Unphotographable,” which opens Thursday at the Fraenkel Gallery, brings a teasing sort of reassurance to us not yet resigned or indifferent to the dwindling of privacy. Teasing, because so many items in this “parallel history” turn out to affirm not photography’s limits, but those of our credulity and our curiosity, which change over time.

From the San Francisco Chronicle online posting by Kenneth Baker on January 2nd, 2013. To learn more about ”The Unphotographable,” please visit the exhibition page.

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