Untitled Photographic Pictures: CIEL VARIABLE review by Adam Barbu

"…the photographic impulse itself is always already held in a tension between composition and incident…"

In recent years, Ottawa based artist Andrew Wright has produced numerous bodies of work that propose new readings on the ontology of the image. In particular, Wright's exhibition at Patrick Mikhail's new Montreal gallery space, titled Untitled Photographic Pictures, presents a series of large-scale photographic works and two mixed-media sculptural works that underscore the artist’s continued effort to use classical motifs and methods as a means to access broader questions concerning the medium of photography itself.

In this series of photographs, Wright opens up a rich interpretive space by taking the motif of the empty landscape and making it strange. Each photograph is a direct-from-camera snapshot taken through the window of a moving train.  As he passes by the landscape, Wright makes a deliberate jerking motion with the camera that causes the otherwise clear, focused image to be interrupted. This destabilizing movement leaves the viewer continually distanced from the "original" landscape. Within the confines of the gallery space, these visual disturbances, or “knots,” are immediately apparent to the viewer; yet, the images, captured in the moment between documentation and abstraction, are not clearly revealed. At first glance – without consulting the exhibition text, for example – one might assume that the artist has digitally edited these images to arrive at an ideal formal state. However, the critical viewer will not read these photographs simply as either completely "untouched" or "altered," but will consider the ways in which the photographic impulse itself is always already held in a tension between composition and incident. The queerness of Wright’s arrival of the image is related to his broader interest in shifting the conversation away from representation or iconographic content and toward process itself...

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