M+B is pleased to present Pale Subtropical Light, a selection of new works by Matthew Porter.
The exhibition comprises a critical photographic inquiry into the career and legacy of Hollywood icon Jane Fonda, mid-century modern architecture in California and historical locations such as the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana. Pale Subtropical Light runs from January 7 through February 11, 2012, with an opening reception for the artist on Saturday, January 7 from 6 to 8 pm.
The exhibition’s six discrete subjects are threaded together to form a reticulated pattern of overlapping subject matter. The title is lifted from “Eureka!,” a 1978 essay by John Gregory Dunne. The essay tracks the attitudes of New York City literati toward his decision to move to Los Angeles in 1964 and their unfounded accusations that he traded the cultural capital of opinions for the cultural capital of images. Los Angeles is often described in terms of mirages and dreams, so it is fitting that Dunne uses hallucinatory imagery to describe his attachment to the city: “I am . . . attached to the deceptive perspectives of the pale subtropical light.” His description of quotidian beauty is used to counter the observations of others on the city in which he lives. He writes of the chimerical possibilities of “psychic and physical slippage” that a place like Los Angeles can instill in the astute observer, using examples of the disconnect between history and experience. In the exhibition, the various pictures explore the relationship between the vivid imagery of historical American myths and the iconicity of the photographs (or lack of) that represent them.
In 1972, Jane Fonda traveled to North Vietnam. Like hundreds of other Americans before her, she was seeking to confirm rumors of the deadly effects of chemical weapons and the bombing of civilian targets by the American Military and to deliver mail to American POWs. On her last day there, she was driven to the site of an anti-aircraft gun emplacement (inactive at the time), surrounded by American, Japanese and Vietnamese journalists, and casually directed to sit at the helm of the weapon. Members of the local community sang Fonda a song, and she responded with an emphatic performance of a Vietnamese anti-war song written by students in Saigon. It was a rapturous moment. Everyone applauded, and Fonda, exhausted by the manic pace of her tour, clasped her hands together and thanked her hosts. A photograph from this encounter became the focal point of the 1972 short film titled Letter to Jane, a footnote to Tout Va Bien, and a pinnacle of Goddard pedagogy. Fonda survived her time in the jungle, but the legacy of those photographs continues to stalk her.
This exhibition runs January 7 – February 11, 2012
Artist’s Opening Reception: Saturday, January 7, 2011 from 6 to 8 pm
M+B Gallery is located at 612 NORTH ALMONT DRIVE, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90069
Phone: 310 550 0050
By Jim McKinniss