Frank Hallam’s Beautifully Lit Photographs Shed Light on City Scenes and Landscapes

Working predominantly at night, photographer Frank Hallam Day explores urban wastelands and sacred architecture. Despite the wide-ranging nature of his interests—spanning telephone booths, Southeast Asian pagodas, and abandoned offices—Day consistently brings his skilled acuity to light to each frame. Addison/Ripley Fine Art will feature a selection of his photographs this month in “Frank Hallam Day: Shrines,” connecting diverse scenes from his expanding repertoire and putting them into conversation.

Bagan Umbra Pagoda 3 (2014) and Pagoda #3 (2014) serve as visual meditations on space, ritual, and the passage of time. With Bagan Umbra Pagoda 3 (2014), Day captures a lush crop of palm trees, a rich constellation of stars, and aged layers of limestone, all bathed in moonlight. The photograph is immersive, as space seems to expand in every direction. Traces of his practice are apparent in Pagoda #3 (2014) where his camera’s flash lights up not just the pagoda structure, but branches from a cherry tree that looms overhead. By adding artificial light and utilizing long exposures in these environments, Day toys with our perception of time and inserts himself effectively into the space.

In the photograph Soi Number 2 (2014) Day finds bright colors that seem more imagined than real: yellow, lime, traffic cone-orange. A telephone and its box look like artifacts from a movie set or evidence from a crime scene. All text is either out of focus or out of view, adding to the scene’s pervading sense of mystery. A patterned strip of metal cuts the frame into thirds, drawing our attention to a figure sitting just outside the telephone booth. We can barely make out the figure’s feet, legs, and folded arms, and without a face or torso we are left with almost zero indication of their identity. 

Anna Furman

Frank Hallam Day: Shrines” is on view at Addison/Ripley Fine Art Gallery in Washington DC, Dec. 12, 2014–Jan. 24, 2015.

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