"Before the Camera: Remaking Reality and the Make-believe" The Norton Museum of Art
Leave it to the Norton to take on the challenge of making us rethink the medium of photography and its aesthetic possibilities. The most democratic of all media who doesn't have a camera these days? has also become perhaps the most suspect, thanks to the computer's ability to manipulate and distort reality. This small but brilliant exhibition tackled the idea of realism versus illusion head-on by focusing on seven very different international photographers whose work wrestles with these current challenges. From the late 1970s/early 1980s work of Cindy Sherman (who made a name for herself with film-still portraits of herself as other people) to the cutting-edge illusions of the young German Thomas Demand (who creates meticulously realistic 3-D models of his subjects that he photographs and then destroys), the show provided an extraordinarily concise survey of its subject. The exhibition also threw in three shots, all culled from local collections, by photo superstar Gregory Crewdson. His Spielberg-meets-David Lynch suburban images, all staged and art-directed on the scale of a Hollywood feature film, offer new narrative possibilities for photography that are just beginning to be explored.