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Marion Faller's photography on display at Burchfield Penney
by Jack Foran
Preserving found things
The Marion Faller photography exhibit at the Burchfield Penney Art Center starts out with some work in collaboration with marriage and sometimes artistic partner and arts polymath Hollis Frampton. Several examples from their humorous tribute series to documentary photography and movies pioneer Eadweard Muybridge, referencing the series he made on animals in motion, against grid backdrops, in multiple images from multiple cameras firing in rapid succession. The Faller and Frampton series is on vegetables in motion. In one case, an apple advancing, closer and closer to the camera, appearing larger and larger in successive frames, until it fills the final frame in a solid black image. In another, a watermelon falling, dropped from disembodied hands in front of the grid sheet. A sequence of photos documents the descent, until the melon hits the ground and smashes.
Elsewhere in the exhibit you come on what looks like further elaboration of the Muybridge tribute idea, further play on Muybridge’s multiples series. Faller’s solo series of six photos of her sister—all roughly in the same pose-—taken during six different sisterly visits. And a series of multiple prints from the same negative, at progressively longer printing exposure times. Until you check and discover the Hollis Frampton collaborative series is from 1975, the solo supposedly further elaboration series is from 1971.
Faller, who died earlier this year, said her work was “about how individuals and communities visually express their values, their interests, and their sense of what is important or beautiful.” Her subject matter as ephemeral manifestations of something deeper, more covert. She captures it all, the exuberant beauty and vitality, the occasional troubling ironies.
A local lawn art display in the wake of the 9/11 attack, featuring flags and bunting and flowers in a blizzard of red, white, and blue, beneath a large “One Nation Under God” sign, and including a plywood cutout central figure Buffalo Bills player, no doubt included in the patriotic display primarily based on the Bills’ team colors, but as well for the additional pugnacious note. And in the background, a rather smaller statuette of a jockey figure in action pose, in red and white and blackface.
Another photo of a “97 Rock” billboard, showing Uncle Sam rolling up his sleeves—eager to get into the fighting—to kick some ass—under the slogan “Let’s Rock” (recalling the “Let’s roll” last recorded words of one of the passengers who died causing the plane aimed toward the Capitol to crash in a field in Pennsylvania before it got there). We can self-promote on this one. And how did the kick some ass thing work out?
Another series is of found objects and residual personal property removed from her son Will’s jeans pockets on laundry days. A recurrent pocket knife equipped with small fork and spoon—a kind of moderate wilderness survival tool—string, coins, ticket stubs, candy wrappers, rubber bands, and a school detention slip noting the misdemeanor offense of “playing with ventilator.”
A shoe tree—not the kind of double-jointed apparatus people used to put in their shoes at night to keep them stretched and spiffy-looking—but tree with leaves and branches, hung with numerous pairs of old shoes and sneakers. Somebody’s idea of beautiful. This one is from Lyndonville. Another arboreal tree—this one from South Park—is thoroughly scarred with carvings of names and initials and other messages to the ages, now none legible.
Photos of religious displays and traditions, saccharine Mary altars in nursery colors and ranks of Eastertide butter lambs and lamb cakes, and Easter dinner food baskets on their way to church for pre-dinner blessing.
Photos documenting Halloween and Christmas season home and front yard decorational excesses, and memorializing several area eatery rooftop sculptural icons. The killer whale atop the Old Man River Restaurant in Tonawanda (as it appeared in 1988), and White-faced Hereford steer above the Beef and Sirloin Restaurant in Cheektowaga (as it appeared in 1987).
One photo of a terrific folk art mural on a building in Batavia—no doubt by a returned Vietnam War veteran—of a military helicopter landing in a field, likely to pick up dead or wounded. The name or slogan painted on the side/underside of the ‘copter: “We were so young.”
The title of the Marion Faller exhibit is Inquisitve Lens. It continues through March 29.blog comments powered by Disqus
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