In his second show at the gallery, Brohm will exhibit photographs from his vintage Ohio series from the early 1980s, a body of work which cemented the artist’s place within the then nascent group of young German photographers investigating color photography as a serious field of practice. Produced as one of the first artists to receive a Fulbright scholarship strictly within the realm of photography, Ohio will be shown in conjunction with a monograph recently published by Steidl in 2010.
Brohm’s works of this era exemplify a radical shift then taking place on how photography was viewed. Undertaken within a few years after two seminal photography shows –Museum of Modern Art’s William Eggleston in 1976 and New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape in 1974- Ohio is a case study of a then relatively new practice of using color photography to fully depict the environment around us, which in the works’ chromatic range furthers the documentary expanse of the depicted landscape. The objective coolness in these pictures renders color as an elemental form, one serving to further accentuate the contours of the scene. Brohm’s Ohio is a place of bleached house paints, washed bricks, and faint neon signs – colors of a distant fragment of time.
Ohio is in itself an apt setting for Brohm’s works to be viewed. A northerly state with traditionally southern leanings, it exists at the plane between America’s drive toward urbanization and its historically sober, rural leanings. With studied restraint, the environments of Ohio are shown in unvarnished objectivity – fixed moments from the ever-evolving American identity. Belying their outwardly deadpan representation of middle America is a country in a stage of flux, a psychological tension borne from modern life that Brohm captures with an assertive calm. Stretching the boundaries of normative documentary photography, the Ohio series are traces of a shifted past, vivified through the prismatic lens of a not so distant memory.
Gallery Louisotti is located at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. Phone (310) 453-0043.
By Jim McKinniss