This exhibition presents a brief survey of the work of Kenneth Josephson (American, born 1932), one of the most inventive photographers of the second half of the twentieth century.
Throughout his career, Josephson has explored photography’s central relationships: between light and shadow, flatness and depth, the real world and its representation, and the image and the object. In his work, these explorations take many different forms—multiple exposures, richly printed street photographs, landscapes, and pictures of pictures—but these disparate works all share one thing in common: every Josephson photograph refers back to itself or to the processes that created it. While these ideas might lead to dry, analytical images, in Josephson’s hands they result in playful, beautifully composed photographs that surprise, challenge and delight. In one, for example, he photographs his own shadow looking down into a ravine. As a result, his shadow is split by the depth of the ravine. In another, the strange silhouette of a car, which appears to be the result of darkroom manipulation, is in fact un-melted snow, preserved by the car’s shadow blocking the sun.
The world, as it exists in his photographs, seems to be made for photography, but sometimes Josephson is the one who made it. His early images of bright white ferns in the forest record the dappled light filtering through the trees. Later, however, he painted the leaves white himself and then recorded the results of his actions. Collectively, his work suggests a host of definitions for photography—photography is about lightness and darkness, about immediacy, about representation—but individually, each photograph seems to celebrate the existence of photography, to revel in the process that brought it into being, and to delight in the simple fact that photography is.