Magazine article The New Yorker

Photography

Magazine article The New Yorker

Photography

Article excerpt

Viewers fond of Atget's thoughtful photographs of bourgeois architecture may be surprised by "Documenting the Zone," which records his wanderings in Paris's zone militaire, with its patched fences, wooden trailers, scraggly cats, and ragpickers. Among the improvised shelters he documents, one remarkably austere structure stands out: a long, low building backed up against a canal, covered almost entirely in thin, venetian-blind-like slats, an unsettlingly indefinable building that could be a laundry or a tannery or a Mies van der Rohe twenty years before its time. Through Jan. 19. (Ubu, 16 E. 78th St. 794-4444.)

From 1948 to 1962, Keita ran a studio in Bamako, Mali, with an eight-by-ten-inch camera and some props: a radio, a Vespa, a patterned bedspread. Sitters came from all over the countryside wearing combinations of traditional flowing robes and Western dresses and suits, which makes for an arresting document of both African tribal culture and fifties mod style. Only within the past few years has Keita, who died last November, begun to receive his due in America. These forty portraits provide a gorgeous introduction to the rarely seen work of the "image king of Africa." Through Feb. 2. (Sean Kelly, 528 W. 29th St. 239-1181.)

"The Light from Within: Photojournals" follows the photographer and wife of Paul in her journey from rock reporter to rock reportee: "Press, Chile" (1993) looks out at a wall of cameras and one grinning woman who has set hers down to say cheese. Though the exhibition offers lyrical work, like "Flowers in the Dirt, London" (1989), the best pictures here take advantage of the artist's singular marriage: "Paul, Stella, and James, Scotland" (1982) shows the former Wings front man standing on a tree-trunk fence in his bathrobe, watching the young James launch himself in midair toward his sister. Through Jan. 5. (Benrubi, 52 E. 76th St. 517-3766.)

The photographer of early modern dance used the medium not just to document but to interpret movement. In portraits of Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Merce Cunningham, and others, Morgan's compositional choreography seems designed to match the movement of the dance. In "War Theme," from 1941, Martha Graham leans into the frame from the left side, her neck thrown back so her hair flows across the picture, as her long black skirt billows behind her and across the frame--the great choreographer seems to snap forward in a breeze of her own invention. Through Jan. 12. (Silverstein, 504 W. 22nd St. 627-3930.)

The Japanese artist has named his show of stained and worn snapshots "Nakazora," after the Buddhist term for "the space between sky and earth, the place where birds, etc. …

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