Judy Fiskin: 'The End of Photography' and Selected Photographs
Until she stopped taking pictures in 1995, at the start of the digital age, Judy Fiskin was what might be called a photographer's photographer. Like the paintings of Giorgio Morandi and Albert York, her crisp black-and-white images were small – not much larger than negatives – and limited in subject matter.
Focusing primarily on domestic architecture, especially in Southern California, they both reduce photography to its documentary and graphic essence and convey a kind of exquisite purity. They also wittily yet tenderly isolate pedestrian structures as the cultural artifacts and often odd, sculptural entities that they were.
Something of a mini-retrospective – and Ms. Fiskin's first solo appearance in New York since 1994 – this show presents 75 photographs from 10 series dating from the early 1970s to the late 1980s. One series, "Stucco," pays homage to Los Angeles bungalows, while another, "Dingbats," zeros in on the decorative whatnots common to many of that city's houses and apartment buildings.
"My Trip to New York" records single and attached homes in boroughs beyond Manhattan, while "Military Architecture" stresses the functional Minimalism of Quonset huts and the like.
The exhibition also includes the 2006 black-and-white Super-8 film "The End of Photography," its first showing in New York. Barely two and a half minutes, it features brief shots of Los Angeles lawns, plantings, houses and apartment buildings, with a voice-over by the writer and dance/movement therapist Joan Chodorow, who reads a list of the accouterments – and, by implication, the pleasures – of the darkroom.
"What was lost?" she asks. "No more film. No more canisters. No more reels." Ditto sinks, aprons, darkness, radios and, finally, photography. The advent of digitalization is clearly mourned, as uncharacteristically grisaille, slightly shaky images come and go. The almost inadvertent contrast of grown and built, of enduring nature and transient architecture, underscores the quiet sense of a love lost.