This is Not a Photo Show was organized by the artist Kimberly Aubuchon for Blue Star Contemporary Art and Unit B Gallery in San Antonio. The title makes reference to Rene Magritte’s famous painting cum philosophical conundrum, This is Not a Pipe. Many of the artworks included use photography but following Magritte’s penchant for paradox, this show about photography also includes sculptures, video and paintings.
Perhaps most surrealistic of the group is the work of Ben Aqua, including a haunting photographic portrait of a man dressed in head-to-toe camouflage in the woods. Without seeing his face and the seamlessness of shifts from the man’s patterned clothing to the branches that surround him, the only human characteristic evident is his bright orange cap, without which we might mistake him for a semi-human woodland character from the X-Files.
Helen Maureen Cooper’s photographs of nail art follow in this investigation of pattern and its relationship to the body. In this case, Cooper’s large format color photographs focus on the elaborate decorations that define Chicago nail art styles, revealing the subtle influence of race and class.
The sculptures by Yumi Janairo Roth combine authoritarian objects that are usually associated with drab unadorned order with bright, shiny and festive decoration. Also included are photographs of these objects in particular sites. For instance, one image of a barricade as disco ball covered in mirrored mosaic is placed on street corner in front of a deadpan policeman.
The exhibition also includes works by William Betts with his pixilated paint fields on mirrors suggesting the surveillance of 747 jets as well as works by Thomas Cummins , Michael Eddy and Matthew Noel-Tod. All together, these works evoke strange uncanny combinations that are beautiful and wild.