Curated by Kenneth Baker
On view January 11 – March 2, 2019
Opening Reception: January 11, 6-8PM
Curated by world-renowned art critic Kenneth Baker, this first solo exhibition of award-winning photographer and Westport native Spencer Platt, presents the photojournalist’s work in a fine art space and context, allowing the viewer to question meaning, place and situation.
This exhibition conducts an experiment: subjecting the work of photo-journalist, Spencer Platt to the pressures of presentation in a fine arts venue.
News photos fulfill their purposes, frequently beyond the camera worker’s intentions or expectations, serving some editorial agenda to inform or illustrate, provoke response, or embed events in civic memory. Yet the photographic acts — reflexes responding to immediate circumstances, perhaps steered by an assignment — also have their own particular content and personal register. This selection of Platt’s work cross-sections all these dimensions.
Visitors may recognize few of the subjects of these pictures — with one gut-clenching exception — but evidence of cruelty and gratuitous suffering, of human urgency and folly recurs in images made in widely disparate settings and times.
Quieter, less inflammatory images help us see how much the power of Platt’s journalistic images owe to his eye for form and color. Some pictures, such as the image of two Mexican migrants’ seeking a hand hold from within a bright blue truck, combine a full measure of social intensity with chance formal brilliance.
Platt’s journalistic bulls’ eyes are “warning shots” — warning us of events’ far-reaching reverberations and the difficulty of descrying them — but so do his more contemplative images warn us of missing by inattention fleeting beauties of reality at its least imposing.
Read The New Yorker contributor E. Tammy Kim’s article in Westport Magazine on Spencer Platt, his brothers Alexander and Russell, and their relationships with Westport Arts Center.
Kim, E. Tammy. “Creative Streak.” Westport Magazine. 1 January 2019: 96-101.