Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Barry Stone at Klaus Von Nichtssagend Gallery

My friend Barry Stone left our north Brooklyn neighborhood at the end of this past summer, moving with his family back to Texas, where he is from, to teach at Texas State University in San Marcos. Barry is Texas born & bred & is now living back in Austin, where he went to school.

The immediate results of this shift are on display at the Klaus Von Nichtssagend Gallery, on Union Avenue in Brooklyn, near Kellogg's Diner (a reference point for the old-timers of the neighborhood). Barry has stated that since returning to TX he has taken approximately 1500 images - using his digital camera. What is on display in the gallery is as much about the arrangement as the use of specific images - the space as a kind of giant notebook - which is a very energetic, witty & experimental use of images.

The photographs are presented in different sizes, unframed, pinned or taped to the walls. Mixed in as well are collage pieces using record album covers as templates, which show a more explicit comic abstraction. Citing formal considerations as the guiding principle in relating otherwise disparate images to one another (e.g. Harry Callahan, John Szarkowski), which would indicate a disregard for subject matter, organizing by virtue of physical correspondences, the images are nevertheless quite full of "subject" even if unstated: what emerges is a cosmology which is both abstract and homey, cool yet earthy. The "unfinished" quality of the prints and the arrangements relate to the photo album as much as the gallery wall. Such ersatz randomness also shows a vivacity and willingness to experiment that is lively, intelligent & stimulating. It makes us aware of the potentialities of new meanings that can be generated by the rupture & suture of disparate images - a kind of proto cinema, or dream state. I told Barry that while I regret we lost him from the tenements of north Brooklyn, it seems he's found a lot more to photograph, where he is now.

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