Photography is like jujitsu. You’re taking whatever is coming at you, and doing something with it.
Gagosian is pleased to announce American Polychronic, an exhibition of new photographs by Roe Ethridge that shares its title with the recently published first comprehensive survey of the artist’s work from 1999 to 2022. Another exhibition of new work by the artist, also titled American Polychronic, is concurrently on view at Andrew Kreps Gallery from January 13 to February 18, 2023.
Moving within and between photographic genres, from art historically informed portraiture and still-life composition to the styled and coded world of the fashion shoot and the bottomless well of stock and online imagery, Ethridge juxtaposes staged scenes with chanced-upon vignettes, pursuing a formal language that trades in visual friction and the wry transgression of structural rules. His ever-expanding catalogue of hybrid images reflects the textures of contemporary American society, expanding on a formal sensibility peculiar to the “generic Methodist, Southern, middle-class world” in which he grew up.
“Polychronic essentially means to do more than one thing at a time,” Ethridge explains of the exhibition’s title. “It’s also a way to describe a cultural notion of time. In the moment, it feels like we are all polychronic by choice or by necessity.” Thus, the term connotes the influence of overlapping contexts on the unfolding of events across a multiverse of images. In Ethridge’s new monograph, images produced for exhibition over the course of twenty-four years are arranged from oldest to most recent, while commercial and editorial photographs appear in the opposite order. The much more focused selection of works on view in the exhibition makes use of the New York gallery space to highlight resonances between the images; in its restrained design, the installation forms an effective counterpoint to the densely packed feel of the book.
Story of my life up to now or Red Tray with Mushroom Clock (2022), a new work not featured in the book, is the exhibition’s defining image. Echoing the collage-like effect of Ethridge’s iconic Refrigerator (1999), this still-life photograph depicts an assortment of objects, including the titular kitschy ceramic timepiece. Placed on the left of the shot, it marks the starting point of a loose autobiographical narrative. FvK Double Trouble (2022) is more concerned with the camera’s relationship to its own products. The titular initialism, which stands for “Fuji versus Kodak,” alludes to a corporate opposition that embodies the artifice of the medium, restaging the history of photography as a story of technological advancement. This work too recalls Refrigerator’s vernacular grid, and shows Ethridge standing coolly back from his subjects rather than presenting them as aspects of an intuitive modus operandi.
American Polychronic, which features an essay by Jamieson Webster and an interview with the artist by Antwaun Sargent, was published by Mack Books in 2022.
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Roe Ethridge and Antwaun Sargent
From his early work for magazines in the 1990s to recent projects with the designer Telfar Clemens, Roe Ethridge has consistently challenged the distinctions between commercial and conceptual photography that long defined the medium. Antwaun Sargent recently caught up with him to discuss the moment that confirmed the artist’s understanding of the photographic image’s potential for boundary-hopping ubiquity in the contemporary era.
Twelve Tracks: Roe Ethridge
Roe Ethridge shares the transportive powers of his playlist “Teenage Chemicals in 1985,” a soundtrack that began playing in those formative years and hasn’t stopped since.
During a conversation with David Rimanelli, Roe Ethridge reflected on photographs that he made during the late 1990s and early 2000s after moving to New York. They spoke as Ethridge was preparing for his exhibition Old Fruit.
Gagosian Quarterly Spring 2020
The Spring 2020 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #412 (2003) on its cover.
Picasso and Maya: An Interview with Diana Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso
Diana Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso curated an exhibition at Gagosian, Paris, in 2017–18 titled Picasso and Maya: Father and Daughter. To celebrate the exhibition, a publication was published in 2019; the comprehensive reference publication explores the figure of Maya Ruiz-Picasso, Pablo Picasso’s beloved eldest daughter, throughout Picasso’s work and chronicles the loving relationship between the artist and his daughter. In this video, Widmaier-Ruiz-Picasso details her ongoing interest in the subject and reflects on the process of making the book.
Self-Reflections: Roe Ethridge Innocence II
Angela Brown considers the wide-ranging photographs included in Roe Ethridge: Innocence II.
Extended through May 30, 2020
February 26–May 30, 2020
976 Madison Avenue, New York