Contemporary Arts Center
Roe Ethridge: Nearest Neighbor
Roe Ethridge: Nearest Neighbor, the artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States, draws from disparate bodies of work made over the past fifteen years. Shifting fluidly and unapologetically between commercial, fine art, and personal photography, Ethridge’s work playfully exploits the ambiguous boundaries separating these distinct photographic modes.
“Nearest neighbor” is a photographic term, a form of interpolation or “resampling” of a digital image. A nearest neighbor is an image with increased resolution based on a lower resolution image.
“Nearest neighbor” also alludes to the personal basis of Ethridge’s work, often lying hidden beneath a polished commercial façade. Not only does the artist frequently use his family and friends as subjects in his photographs, he commonly embeds editorial assignments with objects and associations referring to his personal life. While photographers have typically used their own lives as subject matter for their art, Ethridge flouts distinctions between sentimental and commercial spheres of meaning, suggesting that our lives are an uncomfortable admixture of individual and collective images and experiences.
Roe Ethridge was born in Florida and raised in Atlanta, where he graduated from The Atlanta College of Art in 1995. His work has been shown extensively at venues throughout the world, including MoMA/PS1 (2000); The Barbican Center, London (2001); The Carnegie Museum of Art (2002); The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2005); The Whitney Biennial (2008); The Museum of Modern Art, “New Photography” (2010); and les Rencontres d’Arles, France (2011). He has had solo exhibitions at the Garage, Moscow (2011) and le Consortium, Dijon, France (2013), as well as numerous gallery exhibitions at Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York; Gagosian, Los Angeles; and Greengrassi, London. Ethridge is also the author of numerous photography monographs, such as Rockaway, NY (2008); Le Luxe (2011); Sacrifice Your Body (2014); and Shelter Island (2016).
Film and video are mediums made from still photographs that are set into motion for naturalistic effect. Breaking or disrupting film’s naturalistic illusion is one strategy artists have engaged in order to insert a critical position within a medium that is most often used for straightforward storytelling or documentary purposes. By exposing the gaps between individual frames, or putting together rapid-fire images that don’t quite blend together, artists are able to create other forms of narrative.
Slideshows have been part of the photography landscape since lantern slide projections of the 19th-century and domestic evenings spent with families revisiting family vacations. Artists began using the slideshow format during the 1960s: Chris Marker’s film La Jetée (1962), a sci-fi psychological thriller, was composed almost entirely of still images, imbuing the film with an uncanny and otherworldly mood. Projected slideshows became a common way to exhibit photography in museums as well; photographers such as Garry Winogrand and Helen Levitt exhibited their color work at MoMA in slide format during the 1960s and 1970s, respectively, in part because color photographs were at that time unstable and expensive to print. Nan Goldin’s landmark work Ballad of Sexual Dependency, of 1985, was conceived and shown as a slideshow.
Since the 1980s, artists have continued to explore the slideshow as a medium somewhere between still photography and film. New Slideshow features works by eight contemporary artists exploiting the potential of the slideshow. A highlight of the exhibition is Nan Goldin’s 2011 film Scopophilia (running time, 25 mins). Other artists include: Patricia Esquivias, Mishka Henner, William E. Jones, Sophia Peer, Seth Price, Robin Rhode, and John Stezaker.
New Slideshow is approximately one hour in length and starts on the hour, every hour.