Amy Bedik, “Fleeting Gestures”

The Photographer's Gallery

The most promising work in the Paris “Avant-Garde” show was by a young American named Amy Bedik, and when I moved on to London I found she was having a one-woman exhibition there. The London show of views done in Italy and Spain, was better than the work shown in Paris. Like Jacques Wendenbergh, Bedik has an eye for the interplay of light and space, and like him, too, she doesn’t trust her eye to be enough to make her photography distinctive. Just as he prints on too contrasty a paper, thereby sacrificing a lot of his image for a fake visual style, Bedik tricks up her work by using a Diana camera. She is good enough not to need to resort to the vagaries of this crude equipment, which gives her work an affected personality.

The second, much larger show on at The Photographers Gallery was another ICP import, a compendium of dance photographs with the snappy title “Fleeting Gestures.” The snappiest pictures in it were one-shot studies by classic photographers who were not much interested in dance per se—a Brassaï from a gay bar in Montmartre, a Winogrand from “Public Relations,” or, especially, John Gutmann’s 1939 picture of The High Hatters with Count Basie. These pictures had the same appeal that many in the Musée Bourdelle’s exhibition of photographs of Paris statuary had. In both cases you felt you were getting twice your money’s worth, a record of one art form made in another. Compared to these vintage one-shots, the sequences made specifically to be dance records, which comprised the bulk of the show, seemed rather sterile.

Colin Westerbeck