The camera has long been regarded as a tool that can be used to reveal people, places, and situations that are easily overlooked or out of our normal range of experience. And so it does at Baltimore’s well-established C. Grimaldis Gallery, which presents photographs and photographic projects by 10 American and European artists in “Within/Without.” As the show’s title suggests, their works serve as portals to hard-to-access interior spaces, as well as windows onto places in plain sight, which might nevertheless escape our notice.
Included among this compelling assortment of mid- to large-scale photographic works are Ben Marcin’s recent photographs of the ramshackle shelters constructed by homeless people in Baltimore’s most out-of-the-way places. Much like the solid homes of the privileged, their shelters offer insight into their predilections and personalities. One shelter in particular indicates an impressive degree of ingenuity, with its taller walls, open kitchen, and multipart layout.
In a cheerier vein, Neil Meyerhoff takes viewers inside the serene spaces of Moroccan architecture. The blush colors of a restaurant’s staircase fill the frame in Pink Stairway at Restaurant (2014), sliced through with a single, thin shaft of bright sunlight. Warm yellows and tans draw the eye into his image of a serene hallway in Interior Stairway with Slippers (2014), with its staircase leading up to a sun-filled portal.
More interior views, in this case in black-and-white, abound in Wouter Deruytter’s series of photographs taken inside one of the world’s marvels: the Egyptian Sphinx. They show the passages inside this majestic ancient monument, which uncannily recall the orifices of a living body. He also captured close-up views of the outside of the Sphinx, including the beautifully formed tip of one of its mighty paws.
Marja Pirilä invites viewers into the chamber of a camera obscura in her lush, color photographs of its projections of outdoor views onto the interior walls of various rooms. Though the show is not arranged chronologically, her photographs could be said to be its start. They present a phenomenon that predates the invention of photography—one that indicated to the medium’s inventors that it was even possible.
“Within/Without” is on view at C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, Oct. 21, 2015–Jan. 16, 2016.