Grit and Glamor: A Photographer and Filmmaker’s Eclectic Practice

If you watched MTV in the late ’90s (and who didn’t?) you’re already familiar with the work of the Mexican-American photographer Adolfo Doring. Not that you’re likely to think of Hootie & the Blowfish music videos when viewing the dark and sensuous work Doring has been producing lately.

He’s got range, that’s for sure: as a teenager in Mexico City, Doring shot his first documentary film about the disparity between rich and poor. He later rose through the ranks of the mainstream American music industry, working on music videos for the likes of Sheryl Crow and Santana. But in his personal work, Doring’s early interest in social structures—and his gritty, Distrito Federal-inspired aesthetic—remains unchanged. A selection of his photographs and videos are on display at Bushwick gallery Art 3.

These include those from the ominous “Black Out” series, which capture eerily uninhabited cityscapes devoid of electrical power, and the seductive “The Grey Wall” series, portraying young women, languidly posed in domestic scenes. More overtly provocative is Doring’s film“COMING SOON” COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU (2012), which plays on a loop inside his EARLY 21st CENTURY, AMERICAN (2012) installation. Just glance at the film’s placards: in Placart or Lobby Card for COMING SOON Coming soon to a theater near you (Narco baby hand) (2012), a hand apparently attached to a girl who has overdosed lies limply on the floor, illuminated by an almost sickly light; another placard depicts Doring’s typically attractive young woman in repose, but she’s covered in blood, the apparent victim of a horrific crime. There’s a sense of both glamor and horror to the scene—jewels, open mouths, women’s bare legs, a message half-written with a typewriter, a pair of feet in black pumps poised by the edge of a pool, a young woman lying corpse-like on a bed. 

Functioning within the larger installation, COMING SOON may be viewed as the artist’s comment on the human gaze and the perpetual human hunger for watching drama playing out on a screen. It’s a long way, in other words, from the feel-good atmosphere of the Hootie & the Blowfish music video “Hold My Hand,” also directed by Doring. But judging by his accolades—he won an MTV Music Video Award and premiered his indie documentary Metro at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival—this is an artist who excels across genres.

Bridget Gleeson

Discover more artists at Art 3.