09
Jun
10

Exhibition: ‘Paul Graham – a shimmer of possibility’ at Foam Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam

Exhibition dates: 2nd April – 16th June 2010

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Many thankx to Fenna Lampe and the Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam for allowing me to publish the photographs in the post. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Paul Graham
‘Las Vegas, 2005’ from the series ‘a shimmer of possibility’
© Paul Graham

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Paul Graham
‘New Orleans 2004 (Woman Eating)’ from the series ‘a shimmer of possibility’
© Paul Graham

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Paul Graham
‘New Orleans 2004 (Woman Eating)’ from the series ‘a shimmer of possibility’
© Paul Graham

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“a shimmer of possibility is the latest project by influential British photographer Paul Graham. This work was created during Graham’s many travels through the United States since 2002. a shimmer of possibility consists of twelve sequences varying in number: from just a few images to more than ten. Each sequence offers an informal look at the life of ordinary, individual Americans – from a woman eating to a man waiting for the bus. The sequences focus attention on very ordinary things, which Graham has photographed with affection and curiosity.

Each sequence is a short, casual encounter, where we consider for a moment something that attracts our attention. Then life goes on, full of new possibilities. The way Graham presents the diverse sequences in the exhibition is crucial. Instead of being shown in a linear fashion, a sequence fans out over the wall like a cloud. Due to the carefully considered and inventive structure, no viewing direction or predominant hierarchy is imposed on the individual images. The eye of the viewer wanders over the photos, offering the opportunity to make personal connections in an associative manner.

a shimmer of possibility can be seen as the ultimate antithesis of what Henri Cartier-Bresson called ‘the decisive moment’. This French master endeavoured to record exactly those moments where subject matter and formal aspects combined perfectly in a single image. Paul Graham, by contrast, defends how we normally look around us. We move through the world and look from left to right, see something that grabs our attention, move towards it, glance to the side while en route, pass that by and continue on our way. Observation is a never-ending series of ‘non-decisive moments’, full of potential for anyone who is open to see it.”

Text from the Foam website

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Paul Graham
‘California 2006 (Sunny Cup)’ from the series ‘a shimmer of possibility’
© Paul Graham

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Paul Graham
‘New Orleans 2005 (Cajun Corner)’ from the series ‘a shimmer of possibility’
© Paul Graham

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“Graham walked the streets of residential neighborhoods in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana, and the sidewalks of New Orleans, Las Vegas, and New York, and when he encountered someone who caught his eye, he photographed them: an older woman retrieving her mail; a young man and woman playing basketball at dusk; a couple returning from the supermarket. Graham followed people navigating their way through crowded city sidewalks, and tracked and photographed lone figures crossing a busy roadway, unaware of the camera.

Reviewing several trips’ worth of photographs on the large, flat screen of his computer, Graham realized that the more or less randomly gathered pictures could be united into multipart works. As in a poem, where language and rhythm organize words, lines, and stanzas into an imaginative interpretation of a subject, Graham’s imposed yet open-ended structures imply –  through close-ups, crosscutting, and juxtapositions of people and nature-specific narratives and overarching ideas. Images of people placed in tandem with other people and with nature suggest the flow of life, pointing to the unknown and the possibility of change, with nature acting as a balm, whether as raindrops, trees silhouetted against a burning sunset, or the bright green grass on a highway meridian.

In his reconstruction of the world in pictures, Graham describes an America at odds with itself, filled with contradictions and inconsistencies. Yet, through the gloom, the small felicities of life peek through. Fluid, filled with desire, and marked by extremes, his view is what the late curator, critic, and photographer John Szarkowski called, in another context, a “just metaphor” for our times.”

Text from the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) website

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Paul Graham
‘Pittsburgh 2004 (Lawnmower Man)’ from the series ‘a shimmer of possibility’
© Paul Graham

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Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam
Keizersgracht 609
1017 DS Amsterdam
Tel: + 31 (0)20 551 6500

Opening Hours:
 Daily from 10am to 6pm, thu/fri 10am to 9pm

Foam website

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a shimmer of possibility by Paul Graham.
12 volumes
376 pages, 167 colour plates
24.2 cm x 31.8 cm
12 cloth covered hardbacks
Limited edition of 1,000 sets
steidlMACK
ISBN: 978-3-86521-483-6
Publication date: October 2007
www.steidlville.com/books/600-a-shimmer-of-possibility.html

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3 Responses to “Exhibition: ‘Paul Graham – a shimmer of possibility’ at Foam Fotografiemuseum, Amsterdam”


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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