Critics’ Picks

Barbara Probst, Exposure #106: N.Y.C., Broome & Crosby Streets, 04.17.13, 2:29 p.m., 2013, ultrachrome ink on cotton paper, dimensions variable.

New York

Barbara Probst

Murray Guy
453 West 17th Street
November 9–December 22, 2013

A single work by Barbara Probst may contain as many as a dozen perspectives of a single subject, captured simultaneously by triggering a radio-controlled release system. Her latest exhibition expands upon her two-plus-decade practice, during which she has confronted the limitations of the photograph—specifically as an isolated incident inherently flawed in its singular perspective of reality—calling upon the capacities of the photographic machine to create a more omnipotent if objective eye.

See one of the largest works here, a grid of twelve photographs that tile one wall from floor to ceiling. While the formal clarity and structure of the images recall the serial tendencies of her once-professors, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Probst’s work is staked in more medium-specific concerns. In one frame, a woman casually gestures toward an apple within the comfort of her Manhattan loft, while another depicts a taxicab rushing past on the busy streets below. These images appear to have nothing to do with each other and yet they are tethered to the same moment in time by Probst’s photographic method. The woman and the taxi are imaged from an additional five perspectives, and these lush shots supplement the few descriptive details that await discovery in the work’s title, N.Y.C., Broome & Crosby Streets, 04.17.13, 2:29 p.m., 2013. Where the grid may allow narrative, Probst’s use of it negates a traditionally linear structure, instead privileging each image as a visual clue, nudging toward a more holistic view of reality.

Similarly the triptych Exposure #94: N.Y.C., Washington & Watts Streets, 10.18.11, 1:02 p.m., 2011, images the same subject from three deliberate perspectives. Each camera is positioned on opposite street corners to cross the other’s gaze, converging upon a solitary woman and catching her in a casual stroll. Exposing themselves through a shroud of thick photographic grain are the indistinct interiors of the surrounding condominiums; the windows provide an additional possibility of surveillance. If the photograph innately establishes a spatial relationship to a specific space and time, Probst fractures this bond but widens the scope of a second in time as caught on film.