Pine Portfolio Series at Picaflor Studio

By Marcia Vaitsman and Serene Al-Kawas

Untitled, by Karen Schacham
Untitled, by Karen Schacham

We all have, at least once, thought of the overwhelming amount of pictures we see all day, every day. Photography has changed the way we think and the way we see, adding to linear representation processes, like drawing, non linear and punctual representations. In a photo-chemical process point after point reveals a fantastic new representation possibility. Today the magic of revealing has gained more elements, such as the retouching and the rebuilding of these representations. Correction has become one of the main topics in photography; from superficial retouching to complete fabrication of both beauty and reality.

Picaflor Studio is currently featuring the Pine Portfolio Series, the photographic work of artists Karen Shacham, Alana Goldstein and Dave Batterman. The night of the opening was a rainy one, and the thought of leaving a warm home to venture in the rain and be bombarded with more images was daunting to say the least. Why make the effort to visit a gallery only to see on white walls that which we see on every space, real and metaphysical, every day? This question is bigger than one show. Looking through the exhibition however, we started to see answers.

Shacham’s six photographs show a staged performance that for its complexity and dangerousness, needed to be rehearsed over and over. Two acrobats hang on a line with a motorcycle. The first photographs only show them hanging from the blue sky, there is no reference of height or distance, creating tension but at the same time the masterful body movements are comforting. The camera gets closer and begins to reveal the acrobat as a woman, with hair and skin that looks like what we see at home (not retouched). We see tension in her muscles and suddenly realize the effort and training behind the performance. While this work shows the acrobat as a real woman, it also reminded me of the strength and exactitude that this type of activity requires. These photographs evoke an entirely different reaction than magazine or billboard ads. All day we see incredibly made supermodels telling us, “You are the one that is different,” not fortunate enough to be “naturally” perfect.

The Pine Portfolio Series at Picaflor Studio
The Pine Portfolio Series at Picaflor Studio

Goldstein shows a boxing studio as part of an arena dedicated to physical violence. Most things in life are acceptable if in the right place at the right time, so we watch professional boxing on TV, while Goldstein shows kids boxing and mothers with babies on their laps, sitting around the boxing studio. She shows intimate moments in a not sensational space. There is no exaggerated happiness or sadness, similar to life itself.

Batterman’s five pieces, a combination of photographs and audio recordings, lead us to the intimacy of strangers, to their houses and to a specific moment in their past. The choice to use sound adds another time element to the work, as if the photographic moment would be blown away by these recorded memories. The visual is artificially staged, the scene studied, the lighting unreal, quite like a comic. The speech is spontaneous, unspectacular, almost as a natural as a talk in the cafeteria. This combination results in warm moments of strangeness and moments of familiarity, with very subtle humor – the type of humor that makes life pleasant rather than funny.

It may be that we did not solve the eternal quandary of why to voluntarily put ourselves in a realm of images, despite our general necessity to escape them. But we certainly have come up with one good reason: the reality, or obvious unreality, of a fine art photographer can begin to chip away at the build up of false promises and too perfect models that advertisements overwhelm us with daily. Perhaps a gallery show, like that at Picaflor, can function to help us rebuild that curiosity and hope for something new and authentic, or possibly just honestly fake enough, for us to value the image again.

Picaflor will be hosting a closing party on February 26th from 7 to 10 p.m. Picaflor Studio is located at 195 Arizona Ave, Suite 3, Atlanta, GA 30307, tel: 404.247.6432,

Marcia Vaitsman and Serene Al-Kawas are art students in Atlanta.

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