RVW | A Personal Nature
An exhibition exploring the inconstant nature of the photographic image.
DELANEY ALLEN | A Personal Nature
By Meghan Chalmers-McDonald, MFA AC+D ’14
In his new show at Nationale, Delaney Allen, MFA VS ’10 explores the inconstant reality of photography through non-linear storytelling. Which is to say, his photographs seem in some instances to be part of a personal narrative, but in others, purely technical comparisons between objects and images cast on a wall. Since the subject of Allen’s work is the nature of the photographic image, this cannot be a complaint.
Delaney has an eye for luminous color, and his work shines best when he indulges that eye. The show’s most successful pairing, pictured above, is an image of the night sky alongside the luminous colors of a metal-plated branch of coral lifting an orange with a glittering green interior. The shine of the microcosmic orange seems to be exploded out into the macrocosm of the night sky, the glitter of stars recalling the glitter of metal. Both are breathtaking on their own, but together, their conversation on color and scale is greater than mere the sum of it’s parts.
Other image pairings include a portrait fading into a colored gradient with two images of a rockslide in California, one of which was taken through a solarization filter (a comment on fading memory/identity). On another wall, a photograph of a color-lit crystal hangs alongside one of the sulfur flats in Yellowstone National Park. That final image is titled Somewhere in Wyoming, which seems to question the intelligence of the audience and its ability to recognize this very famous and often photographed location.
The pairing of Watching the Eclipse with Trying to Forget is also memorable. Allen’s attempt to take a picture of a boiling mud pot is commendable—that particular geological feature is difficult to capture on film, as much of its interest lies in the movement of the liquid mud. From the conceptually driven title, one gathers that this is something that Allen is trying, but failing, to forget. Allen has instead given it a place of prominence in the mind and on the wall.
Allen manages, in the end, to take his audience along in his photographic exploration of inconstancy and warped reality.
A Personal Nature, by Delaney Allen, MFA VS ’10, is on view at Nationale in Portland, OR, through October 27, 2013. Closing reception and book release Saturday, October 26, from 6-8pm.