The Active And Eloquent Stills In Out In The Street

at Muzeumm, Los Angeles (through October 21)
Reviewed by Genie Davis

We ain’t gonna take what they’re handing out
When I’m out in the street
I walk the way I want to walk
When I’m out in the street
I talk the way I want to talk

— Bruce Springsteen, “Out in the Street”

Thoughtfully, beautifully curated by Juri Koll, the group show Out in the Street, at Muzeumm through October 21st, is a presentation of both the gallery and The Venice Institute of Contemporary Art. The show features the photographic art of Asif Ahmed, Debe Arlook, Sunny Bak, Hasmik Bezirdzhyan, Nick Bradley, Rodrick Bradley, Larry Brownstein, Cosimo Cavallaro, Ray Carofano, Liz Chayes, Jeremiah Chechik, Diane Cockerill, Lynne Deutch, L. Aviva Diamond, Jenny Donaire, Doug Edge, Maureen Haldeman, Louis Jacinto, Josh “Bagel” Klassman, Juri Koll, Eric Kunsman, Stephen Levey, Lawrie Margrave, Leigh Marling, Alberto Mesirca, Stefanie Nafé, Ave Pildas, Osceola Refetoff, Dotan Saguy, Buku Sarkar, Lana Shmulevich, Carl Shubs, Jeffrey Sklan, Ted Soqui, Stephen Spiller, Stephanie Sydney, Edmund Teske, David Valera, and Jody Zellen.

Each work is an individual piece, but carefully juxtaposed to connect with other images elsewhere in the gallery, whether on opposite walls, or adjacent to them.

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Osceola Refetoff, “Head Butcher”

Koll says, “Everything is in its place, telling a story about something else nearby, whether it is the shape or an image, the color, an emotion, or an intangible thing. The works also reflect a sense of history, which is something I’ve been concerned with ever since I began curating. Because how would we advance art without that history as its basis?”

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L. Aviva Diamond, “Smoking Woman”

For the viewer, each work dovetails nicely with that Springsteen quote: out on the street, anything goes. The photographer can visually “talk” the way he or she wants to talk, creating a visceral portrait of everyday life that is part of a 200-year-old tradition.

Koll says he sought out work that addressed social issues, protest, and creative images of what’s on the street or out the door. From historic artists such as Edmund Teske to today’s diverse mix of Los Angeles-based artists, the exhibition is a tribute to the legacy of street photography, and its future.

According to Koll, “From the moment cameras were invented, photographers took it outside. As a medium, it was originally invented to make painting easier. Nature could be photographed and then recreated on canvas. But people began to use photography to immediately reflect their own selves and how what they saw related to their own personality.”

Certainly, each of the works here reflects not only a vibrant visual aesthetic but the that of the artist creating it. Each photograph is unique, whether its origin is in the world of fine art or photojournalism. While some images are rooted in Los Angeles locales, others are international in scope.

“When I started this show,” Koll explains, “I went in from the standpoint that there is so much street art and so much photography out there. I wanted this photography show to be better than any other.” His personal passion for the medium infuses the art he selected.

Part of this selection involved finding unique works: just about every image in the gallery is fresh viewing: none have been previously exhibited. Another part of his selection process was the desire to reflect a wide range of times and locations; and to present street photography respectfully, as art.

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Ray Carofano, “Banjo Man”

“I try to consider the history of the work, and its origin. Photography is actually my own origin; Ed Teske was one of the biggest influences on my life in terms of photography,” Koll relates.

He notes that “Photographers tend to work in a different sphere than the rest of the traditional art world. But work like this should be taken just as seriously as painting. Many photographs now in museums were originally considered to be ‘just’ documentation. But now they are considered art.” . . .

To read the rest of Davis’s review, go to Riot Material magazine:

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