Upon entering the museum you are first met with what appears from a distance to be large scalene traits of female gymnasts. Upon closer inspection you realize that these images are extremely pixelated. On this scale, the viewer would expect to see the pores of the subjects face. Instead you see something resembling pores but different. Different and exciting. The artist, Katja Stuke, has entitled this series “London”, as part of a larger series entitled “Supernatural.” The project statement alongside the work explains that the artist has taken photographs of a television during broadcasts of the Olympic Games. She has chosen to capture the moment of anticipation on the subjects’ faces right before performing. The result is a breakdown of the beauty, grace , and poise that is expected of these girls during competition. What remains is a somewhat unflattering image of the subjects at their most stressful moments. What happens next is the realization that these are human girls not just the images of almost godly idols projected on the television screen.
On the adjoining wall is a set of work that is completely different in appearance, but retains that element of surprise that Katja Stuke’s photographs contain. From a distance the wall seems to be covered in small 8×10 scribbles. Further investigation reveals that these are schematic of some kind. The artist Susken Rosenthal has titled this series “5760 Minutes – FIFA Soccer World Cup Germany 2006.” The statement reveals that the drawings track the movement of the ball during each of the matches from the 2006 World Cup. The artist has removed any information from the drawings that would allow the viewer to know which team had the ball at any given point. This democratizes the game while abstracting time and space.
These two artists are presented on the first floor of the museum and steal the show. The rest of the show upstairs, while interesting, didn’t have the same impact of surprise and discovery that Stuke and Rosenthal have captured in their works. There was a piece on the second floor that was interesting to think about, but more from a martial perspective. It is by Brett Kashmere. The piece is a video installation of stationary moment in a basketball video game. It brings into question the materiality of the piece, but does not surprise.
Overall, the show is worth visiting if not only for the first floor and its surprising work by Katja Stuke and Susken Rosenthal. Plus, the Museum of Contemporary Photography is free to the public. The show runs from April 12 to July 13. Upcoming shows and events to watch out for are the MFA Interdisciplinary Arts thesis show at the Center for Book & Paper Arts and C2E2 which both open on April 26th.