SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA-- In conjunction with Holly Andres: Sparrow Lane, also on view at the Robert Koch Gallery is Adolescence and Other Mysteries, a group show featuring the work of Thomas Allen, Bill Owens, Nicholas Prior, Herbert Matter and a selection of anonymous photographs. This exhibition further explores Andres' themes of adolescence, mystery, and the supernatural through photographs of pulp-fiction dioramas, suburban teenagers, psychological portraits of small-town New England children, spirit photographs and other enigmatic images. The impalpable, mysterious, and mischievous are further fleshed out in this exhibition through images that address universal notions and curious uncertainties.
Among the early twentieth century ANONYMOUS images included in this exhibition are ‘spirit’ photographs - a subject of significant interest, fascination, and speculation that was the focus of a 2005 exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. A cross between the occult and the transcendent, these photographs taken in the early 1900s range from bed scenes to séances conjuring visages of spirits. Shrouded in mystery and controversy, these photographs were meant to be documents of the paranormal in a historic debate that is still unsolved. Other anonymous photographs in the exhibition offer more questions than answers: a brooding forest where a small figure of a girl sleeps in the middle ground, or a street scene where the crowd is more concerned with the photographer than the massive train engine that has somehow crashed through a storefront window.
THOMAS ALLEN's photographic process begins by cutting out figures from vintage mystery novels, and arranging them into three-dimensional tableaux. He photographs these dramatic dioramas creating suspenseful illusions with lights, camera angles, and focus. Inspired by childhood pop-up books and View-Master imagery, Allen skillfully stages pulp fiction thrillers about love, death, humor, and mystery.
BILL OWENS began photographing his friends and neighbors in suburban Livermore, California in the late sixties. His photographs capture the complexities of life in the burgeoning American suburbs with his distinctive talent for creating images that are simultaneously direct, empathetic, and humorous. While Owens looks at his subjects with a certain admiration, he doesn't shy away from exposing the stranger sides of a familiar world or incorporating elements of irony or comedy into seemingly straightforward images.
NICHOLAS PRIOR delves into the complexities of childhood and depicts scenes that are tranquil in feeling, yet psychologically charged. Set against the placid backdrop of small town New England, the images reveal subtle disruptions in the logical order that adults often take for granted.
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