Monday, December 19, 2011

Andrew Borowiec: Along the Ohio @Wolf

JTF (just the facts): A total of 28 black and white photographs, framed in grey and matted, and double hung in the single room gallery space. All of the prints are gelatin silver prints, taken between 1984 and 1998. The modern prints on display are each 16x20, in editions of 10. A monograph of this body of work was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2000 (here). (Installation shots at right.)

Comments/Context: Andrew Borowiec's photographs of the industrial Midwest are deceptively understated; with just a quick, cursory glance over them, one could easily miss their complexity. Hovering in tones of middle grey, they document working class neighborhoods hemmed in by sprawling factories and power plants, the presence of the Ohio River never far from view. Their sober deadpan formality silences the landscape, leaving behind clusters of crowded houses and slowly decaying communities.

What makes these pictures exciting is the density and structural complexity of Borowiec's compositions; they're almost Friedlander-esque in their layers and details, albeit with a much more earnest severity. Nearly every image has something to discover: toys strewn across a front yard, fake raccoons decorating electric meters, a meandering street leading to a trestle bridge, a pair of ceramic poodles, a nest of overhead electric wires. White picket fences, abandoned cars, ATV tracks, overgrown greenery, and satellite dishes come together to tell a story of a worn down Midwestern existence, where flood waters overrun downtown streets and basketball courts, and smokestacks and cooling towers loom in the hazy distance.

Nearly every image in this show has robust front to back design, where foreground, middleground, and background are carefully modulated to create intricate juxtapositions and spatial overlaps. A kind of controlled chaos consistently emerges, where shapes and patterns interact under the guise of struggling lives. In the end, Borowiec's pictures capture a sense of quiet, muddling through perseverance, with an eye for the subtle photographic arrangement that transforms the mundane into something new.

Collector's POV: The prints on view are priced based on their place in the edition, starting at $2400 and rising to $3000. Borowiec's work has very little secondary market history, so gallery retail is likely the only option for interested collectors at this point.

Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)

Transit Hub:
  • Artist site (here)
  • Exhibit: Akron Art Museum, 2010 (here)
Andrew Borowiec: Along the Ohio
Through January 7th

Sasha Wolf Gallery
528 West 28th Street
New York, NY 10001

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