A show curated by Isabel Sierra.
Miami Photo Salon, produced and shown first in a venue during the 2014 Art Basel Miami Beach- Miami Art week, and now being available online throughout the world, is in my opinion the most ambitious and challenging project photography has ever attempted in Miami Dade County. The Salon demonstrated in the first place that the art of photography is a dynamic process totally embraced by the 21st century art as a legitimate medium.
Miami was the theme of the Salon, and the exhibit was curated as a gaze of the Magic City and the county where it is located. As a day in the calendar of residents love or hate Miami, the subject inspired so many striking, pondering, and sometimes even humorous images that it would be unattainable for me to pick the best without the excellent work by the panel of jurors challenged to decide on the final photographs, which resulted in a selection that convey a scope of contemporary photography as its best.
Photographs in the exhibit defied the traditional idea of the lonely photographer looking for the perfect moment to appear in front of the camera, because in these days the outcome of photography conveys image making process, instead of the straight record of any given decisive instant; it just goes with the new millennium. Most of the photographers in the exhibit have undertaken undergraduate and graduate art-school education; hence they create their work primarily for an audience of art viewers, for the gallery walls, and the art book pages, but also for online formats, and electronic publishing. On the other hand, other images in the exhibit still connect well with pre-existing practices of photography, such as documentary projects in black and white created for editorial purposes in the first half of the 20e century, or family snaps, stills from films, old photographs, and other accounts that trigger our emotions during the processes of signification and cultural coding of self-consciousness in a way a Postmodernist’s analysis would examined it since the mid-seventies.
One example of images’ making is Over the rainbow by Jonathan Brooks, where the strategy of the artist was to create a happening in front of an existing wall, painted with bright colors to represent a perfect blue sky in summer time. The artist added, - especially for the camera-, a dark and somber figure with
umbrella, looking at the wall while turning the back to the viewer. Because the individual’s face is hidden from us his real state of mind is illegible, except for his position in front of the wall-backdrop that makes us wonder if the chaotic weather/time the subject seems to be fleeing from -into the perfect sunny landscape- could be a metaphorical representation of photography showing differing realities gathered in a single composition.
Above and beyond, the selection of 64 images from 40 artists in the original Salon demonstrated the magnificent pluralism, in form and intent that photography offers its makers, even when the subject matter is concentrated to one word, Miami. A car pops up from a visual record of Wyndwood as an artifact chosen to become an object of art itself. A stage photograph where the narrative of the gesture and the elements of interior design suggest a preconceived idea of what the author believe could be the spirit of Miami. A landscape, a lot of them, - almost all digital images with post-production technique usage-, documented with dramatic lights the beauty of nature in our location. The smoky profile of a tobacco lover reminds us of the peculiar smell we sense in Calle Ocho small business shops. A warehouse in distress contrasts with the many urban landscapes showing recent gentrification in those commercial areas.
Subsequently there are people. A lonely tourist in a Miami Vice 80’s kind of living area recorded in gorgeous colors differentiates himself from the black and white small figure of a lady sitting at the bottom of a monumental structure. A young man jumping into the water is a shape against the black and white background that rise above the stereotype of tourists imaginary to show off the physical ease of the habitué. This selection of images from the Miami Photo Salon is a passionate portrayal of dedicated thoughtfulness to illustrate the intelligent extent of contemporary photography.
Miami Photo Salon encourages us to recognize photography as a contemporary art, and be more invested in how photography brings magic and beauty to our visual culture in a provocative way. The infinite possibilities of the photographic act, still redrafted back and fore between analog and digital by many artists, will continue to swell as a vehicle of dissemination of works of giftedly image-making force.