December 9, 2022 – January 29, 2023
Hosted by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp St, 70130
Featured image: Kim Llerena, Route 90 West, Texas (Blockbuster) (2020), 8″ x 10”, archival pigment print
CURRENTS is an annual exhibition that highlights the diverse photographic work being created by New Orleans Photo Alliance members. It is a showcase exhibition designed to give an overview of contemporary photographic practices and projects. The exhibition will open in December at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, in conjunction with PhotoNOLA. CURRENTS 2022 is curated by Phillip March Jones, a curator, artist, and writer based in New York City. In 2020, he founded MARCH, a public benefit corporation and gallery located in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood dedicated to amplifying the voices of under-recognized artists.
Years ago, as a much younger man, I edited my first book—a work titled 40/40 that traced the photographic career of New Orleans-native Guy Mendes through the prism of portraiture. His friend, Wendell Berry, penned the introduction, putting into words how I have always felt about the nature of photography. Berry writes, “All the arts of course are submitted to time, each in its own imaginative and technical way. But photography is the art most immediately submitted to darkness. Looking at these portraits, turning them one by one into sight and out again, I have allegorized the photographer as—somewhat like the rest of us—a man in a small, dark room, waiting for the light to enter.” As a gallery owner, curator, and artist, I find myself waiting for a kind of light or inspiration to come through my interactions with material, artists, writing, or the world as it is on any given day. It is with this feeling in mind, that I have selected the work of these ten photographers, among dozen of entries, potentially like-minded individuals who together and separately are tracing the most basic of human engagements with their world and leaving us with seemingly eternal instants to ponder and consider.
The artists presented here were selected for their visible adherence to an idea, manifested through the lens of photography. Jeremiah Ariaz and Aaron Hardin trace human activity with light, removal, and the imprints of banal architecture over time. Eric Kunsman takes a similar approach through his geographically diverse investigation of the payphone—present or vanished—within the landscape, an object that could almost be mistaken for a modern-day folly represented in the work of Ann Benham Koerner. Will Jacks’ photographs—saturated in technicolor—present an equally-abandoned world, as do Kim Llerena’s, but one that is warmed by a quirky aesthetic optimism. Casey Joiner works in an adjacent vein, but in her images inanimate objects seem drawn to one another against the realities of nature, save a lone girl who is perhaps more in line with the reality of the human condition.
There are very few people featured in the presentation—by design. The exception is Susan Kaufer Carey’s self-documentation, images where the artist’s body is abstracted by the most basic element, water—the implicit threat to the world documented by Daniel Kariko. An antidote to this might be found in Stephanie Dowda DeMer’s image where light and body can be witnessed seeking moments of respite in nature. Viewed together, these photographers illustrate a world that is both menaced and enhanced by our place in it—and perhaps—challenges us to do better.
-Phillip March Jones