Private Idaho

Laura McPhee at the MFA, Ann Carlson at Radcliffe, and ‘Art House’ in JP
By RANDI HOPKINS  |  May 3, 2006

Laura McPhee, Mattie with a Bourbon Red Turkey, Laverty Ranch, Custer County, Idaho, November, 2004

Photographer Laura McPhee is not afraid to embark on BIG projects, pursuing lines of inquiry that involve miles of travel, take years to realize, and result in great BIG photos. She spent more than 10 years roving the globe with fellow photographer Virginia Beahan and exploring the way people interact with their landscape; the breathtaking photos they created were widely exhibited and also published as a book, No Ordinary Land ,in 1998. Later that year, McPhee traveled to Calcutta to create documentary photographs of mansions and marketplaces, hoping to capture what she saw as the profound intertwining of East and West in India. In her latest body of work, “Laura McPhee: River of No Return,” which opens at the Museum of Fine Arts on May 13, she continues her study of landscape and land use with 40 monumental photographs of rural America taken with a bulky 8x10 view camera and tripod over a period of more than two years in Sawtooth Valley, a remote area of central Idaho.

McPhee’s photographs are in the tradition of the romantic image of the vast American wilderness as painted by 19th-century artists like Thomas Moran. But they also show a reality at odds with this vision: the bloody image of a quartered elk, a ravaged scene of the effects of strip mining. Giving a human face to the paradoxes she finds in modern rural life, she includes a series of portraits of Mattie, a teenage resident of Sawtooth Valley, who’s seen in one photo as a “typical” American teenager in flip-flops holding a dead turkey.

Chickens are the topic in a new performance by Ann Carlson, a choreographer, performer, director, conceptual artist, and Radcliffe Institute Fellow for 2005–2006. Carlson has forged her own path at the intersection of movement and the visual arts, creating solo works as well as collaborative, site-specific art. Her latest project, “Chicken: Ann Carlson and Photographer Youngsuk Suh , ” opens at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study on May 8; that afternoon, she’ll speak about her work at the nearby (6 Ash St) Cronkite Graduate Center Living Room

Here’s a rare sighting: a commercial real-estate project that’s art smart. Will Brokhof has developed a migrating series of group shows called “Art House” in which he invites artists to display their work in units he’s hoping to sell. What’s notable is that the artists are actually worth a look, they keep all the money from any sales, and Brokhof is donating five percent of his commission on the sale of the properties to the fine nearby non-profit Gallery at Green Street. The latest incarnation of Brokhof’s “Art House” takes place at 85 Rockview St in Jamaica Plain on May 6 and 7, and again on May 13 and 14; it includes work by Nicole DePonte, Samantha Fields, James Hull, Danielle Krcmer and Catlin Rockman.

“Laura McPhee: River of No Return” | May 13-September 17 | Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave, Boston | 617.267.9300 or | “Chicken: Ann Carlson and Photographer Youngsuk Suh” | May 8-26 | Agassiz House, Radcliffe Yard, 10 Garden St, Cambridge | 617.495.8212 or | “Art House” | May 6-7 + May 13-14 | 85 Rockview St, Jamaica Plain | 617.648.4466

Related: Art beef, Documentary evidence, The Empire strikes back, More more >
  Topics: Museum And Gallery , Cultural Institutions and Parks, Museums, Museum of Fine Arts,  More more >
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