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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

“Long Life Cool White” is picture perfect

   

I have to admit that I had never heard of Moyra Davey and my brief search for information revealed very little. Everything I know I learned from the exhibit, which still is pretty much nothing. When one thinks of exhibits at Harvard University’s Fogg Museum, one usually thinks of the displays of European Renaissance artwork depicting portraits of unknown people and images of the Madonna and Child. One does not typically think of modern art photography. I was pleasantly surprised to see this work at the Fogg, and even more pleasantly surprised to see a Harvard Museum do a special exhibition right (see my previous articles this semester for my complaints against Harvard special exhibitions).

While I don’t really understand the name of the exhibit, “Long Life Cool White” somehow fits. The exhibition consists of a series of photographs put in groups of at least two. At first glance, each photograph looks like a snapshot someone took while trying to figure out how to use their camera; however, upon closer look, one can see a reflective, deeper, more artistic image. “Copperheads,” the first work portrayed outside of the exhibit, is a ten-by-ten grid of close-ups of pennies in various states of corrosion and wear. After entering and perusing the exhibit, I was left with a feeling of nostalgia. The pictures depict close-ups of dusty record players, shelves of obsolete radio equipment and stacks of records, reminding me of the dorm room of a somewhat geeky individual.

Of the two rooms that make up the exhibit, the second was my favorite. One wall had 6 sets of 9 pictures, each of empty liquor bottles, all 54 resembling portraits and reminding me of projects I had seen done in an intro photo class (while also reminding me of a number of college parties I’ve attended). On the opposite wall was a set of five photos of shelves, each individually titled: “Pledge,” “Eisenstein,” “Greed,” “YMA” and “Otis.” The titles confused me, though there have been times I’ve seen an artist simply make up a title that seems impressive, yet is pointless. Then in the image “Otis” I noticed a book with that title. From then I felt encouraged to play “Where’s Waldo?” to find the source of the title in each image. Any time an artist can cause me to spend a large amount of time trying to glean all the secrets from an image, they earn a kudos from me. I found this type of titling to be a reoccurring theme in other series, specifically photos of racks of records.

Long Life Cool White has to be the best gallery exhibition I’ve seen this semester. I highly recommend that every art student, wannabe photographer or anyone looking for an inexpensive date to pay this Fogg exhibition a visit. I’ve had issues with Harvard exhibitions in the past, but this makes up for them. Harvard is no longer on notice, so go check it out.