Category Archives: Newspace Center for Photography

Sarah Knobel – Icescapes

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Sarah Knobel, Icescape, photo (2014), on view at Newspace Center for Photography until June 1, 2014

An eclectic mix of disposable manufactured objects (largely gathered from one dollar stores), encased in ice, leans forward. It’s in mid melt, as evidenced by some yellowy water and flecks of green (moss?). For me Sarah Knobel’s Icescapes recalled a number of quite disparate phenomena that taken together made for a potent brew. The haphazard, decayed look made me think of trash left behind by a storm, littering a riverbank and marking an otherwise pristine looking landscape. Or perhaps it’s a cross section pulled out of your garbage can and frozen for posterity, a record of waste and consumption. And, of course, it’s hard not to think of the big melt being caused by climate change. Knobel explains that she’s interested in the history of landscape photography and that her staged landscapes, far from permanent, reference “the fragility of the natural world and our impact upon it within a brief time period in relation to its existence without humankind.” The beauty of this series is indeed unsettling, in part, because it presents, at least implicitly, how we’re irrevocably and rapidly changing our world.

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Benny Wizansky – Columbia Slough

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Benny Wizansky, Columbia Slough (2013)
on view at the Newspace Center for Photography (Dec. 7 – Feb. 2)

The Columbia Slough in North Portland is one of those secret and mysterious urban waterways that is both so close and so far from everyday awareness. City dwellers are certainly rediscovering and revitalizing many long neglected waterways, notably the Los Angeles River and the Bronx River. But the Columbia Slough watershed, which consists of 6 lakes, 3 ponds, and 50 miles of waterways in industrial North Portland, has not yet become so beloved or accessible and, indeed, it may never. It’s a hard to love body of water –  slow moving, difficult to get to, and marked by industry. Benny Wizansky’s photo series Columbia Slough, collected in a book of the same title, is a quiet yet moving study of the Slough. Photos like the one above capture those odd moments when pavement meets nature. Wizansky notes that “Today, the Slough is contrast defined – a forced meeting of airplane exhaust and misty fog, of eagle calls and lunch break whistles, and of spring raindrops and oil slicks.” This and other images in this series strike me subtle promptings, urging us not to do anything bigger than to look a bit more closely and perhaps care about what we see. But in the end those would be big steps.

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