Exhibition Review: The Fence
By Isabella Weiss
The Fence presents photojournalistic works from diverse artists and origins in a casual, unpretentious format and setting. Printed together on prolonged canvas sheets, the string of these images is evocative of an instagram feed. We are all used to being fed lines of images as we walk through space, so their appearance on a fence in Brooklyn Bridge Park is unremarkable. However, these images are different from the ordinarily inundated because they are documentary and educational, not personal or contrived.
This canvas of images makes the fence on which it is hung---a barrier that is most often visually but not physically permeable---into a window, or rather, a series of them. Although diverse in content and tone, these windows all open onto evidence of human empathy, imperfection, curiosity, and peculiarity. These images confront the unsuspecting passerby with such evidence, and some demand contemplation. Barry Rosenthal’s series Found in Nature, which exhibits arrangements of improperly disposed trash, forces the viewer to reconsider the disposal of the plastic bottle containing his/her cold lemonade, Valerie Leonard’s Sulphur Soldiers reveals the human sacrifice underlying the refinement process of the sugar in that lemonade, and Gregg Segal’s Daily Bread ignites contemplation of the continuous matter consumed by an individual weekly, a collection of fluids and solids that the lemonade currently joins.
The photographic series in The Fence are not all didactic or disquieting. They unite the documentation of human suffering with that of human joy, and both in their varying degrees and extremes. In this way, they represent human experience in its inherent inequality. The fence, a barrier between functional space and the unsightliness of functionality in progress, becomes itself a potential source of progress in this public exhibition by serving as the canvas for the revelation of both the disparity and unity of humanity. The Fence will be on display in Brooklyn Bridge Park until September 10, 2017.