Allison Barnes –  [↑] July 30: Incision (2012); [←] July 23 (2012); [→] Bruised Vein from Neither For Me Honey Nor the Honey Bee (2014); [↓] July 24 (2012)

Little else drops me down a k-hole faster than stumbling upon a photographer whose work thoroughly engages me.

I spent a good part of yesterday pouring over Allison Barnes’ work. Given her proclivity for shooting analog large format almost exclusively, this shouldn’t be a surprise.

What surprised the fucking shit out of me was how far off base my initial impressions were.

For better or worse, I think everyone tends to start from what they know based on their experience. Barnes initially struck me as a photographer preoccupied with Francesca Woodman, Sally Mann and Ana Mendieta.

Following those markers leads down lush verdant path passing interesting scenic overlooks; but sooner or later each dead ends, leaving you to retrace your steps and then begin again from the beginning.

What’s strange is it almost feels like these false trails are supposed to be followed–as if in following them to their end the work is teaching the viewer how to see it, as if initial misunderstanding is somehow integral to any sort of eventual understanding…

It’s this that dismisses perfunctory correlations with Woodman and Mann–both being more caught up in aesthetic interrogations of the trilateral relationship between author, subject and audience, how that relationship manipulates objectivity.

The Mendieta trail does stretch further than the others but in the end Barnes veers away from carefully manicured feral confrontation for something not exactly patient or even contemplative so much as the expectant stillness of someone willing to wait for you to get the ever-so-clever joke in the otherwise grave conversation.

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