selections by Darren Ching

April 12 – June 1, 2008

En route to Woodstock to judge Photography Now 2008, there was no real expectation of what I would be confronted with. In judging competitions, I respond to what is revealed from the entries themselves. With this context my judging approach is based upon simple but key criteria—quality of execution, well-formed ideas and a high level of uniqueness.

Over the course of the fast-paced day of judging, the entries spanned a remarkable diversity of photographic projects that displayed a consistently high level of quality and originality of vision. Through the process of assessing and reassessing and as my shortlist began to develop further, certain trends began to emerge. It was these trends that were instrumental in shaping the selection and cohesiveness of this year’s Photography Now exhibition. The overall trend that emerged is the photograph as a document and a site/sight of construction; encouraging the viewer to read, question, and imagine.

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Additionally, what inspires me, from the perspective of a judge/curator, is the search for that intangible ‘something new’— photography that almost makes your heart skip a beat. The nine photographers selected have that special spark.

A unique form of portraiture reveals itself in Sparky Campanella’s evocative grid of skin swatches. Through the mosaic of dermatological pattern there emerges eroticism, anonymous individuality, and sensuality. Working within the tradition of street photography, Matthew Baum’s images of decisive moments are cleverly transformed, through the subtle alteration of the surrounding environment in which they’re found. His street scenes, therefore, become compelling tableau vivants that question the construction of the image itself.

Also utilizing the photograph as document, Lucas Foglia evidences a community of people who have, for all intents and purposes, shunned the modern world via a perceived alternative existence. His departure from straightforward recording emerges through his use of lyrical romanticism

In the nocturnal vision of the city presented by Marc Yankus, we find an alluring timelessness, touched with nostalgia and melancholy. Mary Parisi’s photographs seduce with the abstract textures of food, the realm of kitchen banality is transformed, as a maze of jewel-like beads of condensation become a sensual scrim for a boiled chicken.

Destruction and carnage finds a voice through Jesse Avina’s images of intricately constructed miniatures of war zones, these images blur the distinction between fiction and reality. Through Allen Bryan’s unsettling panoramic interiors of unoccupied living spaces, it is the highly crafted assemblage of space and time that presents a believable ghostly beauty and other worldliness. Regan Avery’s utilization of a solitary mirror on the water’s edge, acts as a portal beyond the frame and embodies fragility and beauty. In Vicki DaSilva’s photographs too, the surreality of the landscape is provocatively constructed, via the use of sheets of light and saturated color that cut through the blackness of night.

My thanks to all of the photographers for entering this year’s competition, whose work had set the foundation of this exhibition. And, to Ariel, Megan, Liz, Josephine and the rest of CPW’s staff for the work they put into the selection process.

—Darren Ching, 2008
Photo District News & Klompching Gallery

Darren Ching is the Creative Director of PDN, the award-winning monthly magazine for the professional photographer

Mr. Ching is also the co-owner/co-director of the newly launched KLOMPCHING Gallery, located in the vibrant district of DUMBO district of Brooklyn, New York. The gallery focus is contemporary photography by emerging talent, as well as under-recognized work by established photographers.

Regan Avery

Jesse Avina

Matthew Baum

Allen Bryan

Sparky Campanella

Vicki DaSilva

Lucas Foglia

Mary Parisi

Marc Yankus