From one photography collector to another: a venue for thoughtful discussion of vintage and contemporary photography via reviews of recent museum exhibitions, gallery shows, photography auctions, photo books, art fairs and other items of interest to photography collectors large and small.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Masato Seto, Binran @Yancey Richardson
JTF (just the facts): A total of 9 color images, framed in black with no mat, hung in the main gallery space. The prints come in two sizes, 30x40 or 40x50, in editions of 8 and 6 respectively. The negatives are from 2006 and 2007. (Installation shots at right.)
Comments/Context:MasatoSeto's images of Taiwanese betel nut kiosks are dazzling and exotic, falling into a more general category of anthropological studies of remarkable foreign subcultures. In these pictures, Seto has made flash-lit night images of outlandish roadside binran shops. In each work, a scantily clad but bored female attendant (often sitting on a stool) stares out from a surreal glass cage reminiscent of a window display or an aquarium. Each pod is glowing with bright colors and harsh glare, literally "framed" by neon or fluorescent lines and swirls of light around the edges of the enclosure.
An initial reaction to these pictures might be that they are exposing overt exploitation, and perhaps in some way they are. But when many of these images are shown together (as they are here), any trace of specific personality or story seems to melt away, and the pictures become an exercise in theme and variation (almost like a set of Becher water towers), where the outrageous architectural details (including the doll-like women who are part of the scene) become the focal points.
Collector's POV: The smaller prints in this show are priced at $4000; the larger ones are $6250. A signed monograph of the Binran work, published by Little More, is available from the gallery for $30; this book is well worth flipping through or buying, as seeing another 20 or 30 of these images (beyond those in the show) makes the breadth of the project and the diversity of shop styles more apparent.
Rating: * (1 star) GOOD (rating system described here)