Magazine article Artforum International

"Another Girl, Another Planet"

Magazine article Artforum International

"Another Girl, Another Planet"

Article excerpt

LAWRENCE RUBIN GREENBERG VAN DOREN, NEW YORK

Girls, girls, girls! The "it" show this spring was unquestionably "Another Girl, Another Planet," which assembled the work of thirteen young photographers from several countries, all but one of them women, taking pictures of women and girls. Enough press accumulated around the show to generate speculation as to its meaning, not to mention a bit of a backlash. Complainers smelled a fix, masterminded by cocurator Gregory Crewdson, who taught six of the artists at Yale. This is nothing new - recall the plethora of (largely male) students of John Baldessari and Mike Kelley flooding the art world in the '80s. There was predictable grumbling, too, concerning the mediagenic quality of many of the artists. Another familiar story - if successful young women artists in general are an unusually lithe slice of the female community (cf. the recent article in the New York Times), looks certainly never hurt Alexis Rockman or Matthew Barney. In other words, yes, the bunch of artists and pictures have a hook (shocking!), but the real interest lies elsewhere.

What from a distance looks like a sociological phenomenon becomes, close up, a disparate collection of technique and intent. The most immediately likable photographs, and the ones most frequently reproduced, are the Hudson River pastorals of Justine Kurland. Gaggles of awkward but ultimately lovely girls hang from trees, hit the swimming hole, French braid one another's hair. Equally beautiful but slightly chillier are the British home and garden photos by Sarah Jones. Katy Grannan's semidocumentary, full-frame images of young women stiffly posing in their own homes are uneasy but enormously present and absorbing. The subjects of other photographs run from disturbing sexuality (Malerie Marder) to sweet absurdity (Jitka Hanzlova's Dance with Goat, 1993) to captured moment (Dayanita Singh's Samara and Pooja Mukherjee, New Delhi, 1998).

What do these images have in common? Aside from a marked set of influences - indeed, the show may signal the emergence of the first generation of artists to

take for granted the twin (if antithetical) lessons of Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin - the emphasis here is on narrative. Many of the loose stories stretch across a series, such as those depicting runaway girls (Jenny Gage's real-life drifters and Kurland's utopian vision of a girls-only society). I find the more compact, iconographic narratives suggested within single frames, such as those by Sarah Dobai and Dana Hoey, less successful; their artifice isolates them from each other, and from any real-world experience. The broader projects depict the photographers' conception and execution as much as any fictional narrative: Grannan placed an ad in an upstate newspaper for models, Jones has worked with the same group of village girls for years, Hanzlova returned to her hometown in the Czech Republic. …

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