Ryan McGinley, Ann (Windy Truck), 2007, c-print, 72 x 110 inches. Image copyright of Team Gallery
I have an online exclusive at the L Magazine this week; Ryan McGinley at Team Gallery. A teaser from the review below:
Ryan McGinley critics describe the narrative behind his photographs something like this, “My friends are pretty. And we get naked in the country. Usually there are drugs. Rad! So subversive.” That his 30 plus photographs of nudes in undeveloped landscapes currently on display at Team Gallery might be as vapid as the lifestyle they depict certainly hold weight as a criticism, even if McGinley’s acclaim comes from his ability to transcend the documentary youth culture genre. Earlier photographs, including a picture of a young man riding his bike taken from above in 2000, a 2004 image of a nude woman named Dakota, sipping a drink from a straw in the back of a moving truck, and a number of silhouetted figures captured in the midst of falling evade the cry of overly narcissistic photography frequently attached to like minded photographer Nan Goldin, and at least some of the moral depravity for which Larry Clark has been criticized. At their best, McGinley’s flat, unassuming representation of friends and models exhibit a rare honesty and contemporary uniqueness updating the lexicon of gay photography.
Of course, part of the excitement to these photographs comes from the fact that their attributes are seemingly at odds with a slightly staged look. As former Whitney curator of photography Sylvia Wolf, wisely explained last year to the New York Times, “His subjects are performing for the camera and exploring themselves with an acute self-awareness that is decidedly contemporary. They are savvy about visual culture, acutely aware of how identity can be not communicated but created”.
Given the fact that many of these photographs were partly arranged to begin with, it’s not too surprising that McGinley might grow tired of waiting for a picture to happen, a change in process he noted in the same Times article quoted above. The question of how much the artist gains from staging his work however, plays out rather negatively since much of the narrative remains the same, and many photos now look overly contrived. Even the most successful shots, Ann (Windy Truck), Brennan (Clear Poncho), and Coley (injured), feel a little too posed, the models taking on a strange contemplative sadness overly familiar within the genre. The latter two do a reasonable job at juxtaposing alluring textures such as that of skin with unexpected synthetic and natural materials respectively, but it’s a small success. The weakest works, Together Running, an obscured nudes in mountain Where’s Waldo photograph, and virtually anything from this cliché round of naked hipster women surrounded by fireworks leaves a viewer wondering why so much plotting should be required for such poorly conceived shots.
The rest of the review here.