A single row of photographs, presented simply. Of women’s clothes. A woman’s clothes, I learn. A noted avant garde writer, now deceased. Kathy Ackers, a name that has come up lately in newspaper articles and during studio visits. (It seems there is a play in Belarus…) Looking at the artist’s name printed in pencil on the wall, I learn the photos are by a friend, they are the work of Kaucyila Brooke. This makes me smile, for it is always nice to see a friend shine, and to see their work triumph in the small space of an art fair.
These are photographs to look at right now.
In these photographs I find intellectual rigor tempered by emotion, I would almost say love. (One might term this ‘subjectivity’ and so relegate the human affect to conceptual safety, but I think not so for Brooke; humans are central to her practice.)
I find in these photographs the body of the writer, and I can see Brooke’s respect for and idolatry of Ackers as a fellow artist and intellectual. I also find Brooke’s delight in the insouciant, completely free-spirited dresses, lingerie, etc; and I can also sense Acker’s delight in her own beauty.
I find present evidence of relationships: Brooke with Ackers, readers with Ackers through Brooke’s work and informed by their understanding from the novels. I sense around the writer a social whirl, and I want to be there, and so I find myself in these photos, too.
I can imagine being such a person, I can imagine falling in love with such a person, I can imagine standing on the outer edge of her circle and being grateful that I am.
This is what photographs can do.
Photographs are ‘doing’ a lot of things recently. One might ‘build the final image in one’s camera by layering up exposures,’ and one might create abstract sets to photograph analogically what seems digital, another artist might use sculpture and chemical finishes to replicate the experience of photography and to reference time in their work; and all these things are fine. But…
These Kathy Ackers photos of Kaucyila Brooke’s show me that the best ‘thing’ that a photograph can do is to originate in the mind and the camera of a thoughtful artist.
(If Notes on Looking were the kind of website to designate artworks as ‘best in show’ (and I suppose that now it is), then indeed, Kaucyila Brooke, Kathy Acker’s Clothes are that, and much more.) Go to Art Los Angeles Contemporary, Booth D9.