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You would never call Mark Hogancamp and Bosco Sodi landscape artists, but their concurrent exhibitions at Pioneer Works underline an improbable parallel between these two artists whose works are in many ways worlds apart. They are both world-makers.
Hogancamp has created a vast, one sixth scale model of a Belgian town circa World War II in his yard in upstate New York, where he stages elaborate narratives starring toy figures that he then photographs. He began building the town, named “Marwencol,” while recovering from a vicious beating that left him in a coma. Many of the stories that play out in his works focus on the interactions between the villagers and Nazi troops that periodically attack and occupy the city. There are violent battles, kidnappings, and rescue missions, but also tender scenes between villagers, moments of calm amid the mayhem, and extreme closeups on vivid details of the dolls’ surroundings — like, here, a photo of tiny doll dresses fixed to a tiny laundry line with miniature clothes pegs. The characters inhabit a tiny Belgian village sound stage of sorts that is just as fully realized as the interactions between them.
The exhibition at Pioneer Works, The Women of Marwencol, highlights the female characters in this miniature military drama and showcases a new set of works made with human-size mannequins. The carnage in some of these works is more graphic than anything I can remember from Hogancamp’s earlier series. In one piece, a female figure with an enormous and impressively realistic gash on her face and blood all over her shirt looks away while a male figure made up to resemble Hitler looms menacingly in the background. But there’s also a renewed emphasis on domestic scenes, and those executed with life-size rather than doll-size models are especially powerful precisely because the characters don’t immediately register as mannequins. One such image here features two female figures perfectly framed by a doorway that seem to be about to embrace. The photo evokes Nan Goldin and Cindy Sherman, yet remain firmly rooted in the unique mythology of Marwencol. They portend a compelling evolution in Hogancamp’s world.
The connection to the landscape in Bosco Sodi’s work is at once more abstract and more obvious than in Hogancamp’s photos. From afar Sodi’s massive, sculptural paintings — the centerpiece of this exhibition, The Last Day, is 57 feet long — resemble the scorched and cracked dirt of the desert floor. Up close their grooves and mounds, which he manipulates by rubbing, dripping, dropping, and throwing pigment and other materials onto his canvases by the fistful, resemble the ridges, valleys, peaks, lakes, and hills of some miniature planet’s monochromatic crust.
The three new works on view here are all made with silver pigment, some of it speckled with glitter, giving the entire show a magical, shimmering quality. They make the main gallery of Pioneer Works feel like the interior of a mine where some glistening mineral is being extracted. The choice of metallic pigment adds another uncharacteristic element to his work: It gives it a completely different and bewildering weight and texture. You get the sense that these works weigh tons, and are as solid as steel, which is a kind of material trickery not present in Sodi’s series of blue, pink, red, green, or black paintings. Perhaps he is embarking on an alchemical phase; no doubt gold pigment will be next.
These serendipitously juxtaposed exhibitions showcase exciting new wrinkles in each artist’s practice, but they also hint at a missed opportunity for collaboration. Why is there not a new episode from Hogancamp’s Marwencol universe set on a landscape of Sodi’s silver hillocks? Maybe that’s an unreasonable request, but it’s the only thing this pairing of their very differently immersive worlds left me wanting.
Mark Hogancamp’s The Women of Marwencol and Bosco Sodi’s The Last Day continue at Pioneer Works (159 Pioneer Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn) through December 14.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…