Explore These 3 San Francisco Art Galleries in October

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From Ansel Adams founding the first fine art photography department at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1945 to Eadweard Muybridge creating the first motion pictures at Stanford, the Bay Area has long been a hub of photographic history. This rich heritage is still carried by an avant-garde of contemporary photographers, working across styles and techniques.

Here are three galleries you can visit this week to explore the works of some of the Bay Area’s top contemporary photographers.

Photo by Bill Jacobson.

Bill Jacobson

In love out of nowhere

Catherine Clark Gallery, 248 Utah St.
Until October 22 | Free

Bill Jacobson’s diffuse photographs encapsulate a sense of remoteness and estrangement, of being outdoors looking within. This correlates with the experience of the artist living through the HIV/AIDS crisis, an experience he articulates with the simple, formal trick of taking his photographs out of focus. They convey not so much an image as a feeling.

“Into the Loving Nowhere,” an exhibition of his mid-’90s and early-’00s photos, is as understated as its content, with just five large chromogenic prints and two smaller gelatin silver prints. But the weight of the detachment they illustrate is global.

The color prints are so many street scenes, reduced to splashes of color. In one, a person walking blends into a window, barely distinguishable. In another, the gray and green palette is so understated it resembles the memory of a dream. One of the black and white prints, and the most moving of the entire exhibition, “Interim Couple #1098”, 1994, shows two men embracing. Their closeness seems to be what the photographer wants, but can’t quite stick to.

This sense of detachment exemplifies a world slipping just out of reach, even as Jacobson repeatedly tries to capture it on film, approaching the helplessness of “watching my friends get sick and die.” Looking at the photos of Jacobson, I wondered: what is on point? Literally nothing. And it is through this hazy absence that Jacobson illustrates loss with such paralyzing clarity.

Photo by Wesaam Al-Badry

Wessaam Al Badry

The other language

Jenkins Johnson Gallery, 1275 Minnesota St.
Until October 29 | Free

Many things divide us in this country, not the least of which is the ideologies of work and citizenship. Two recent collections of images by photographer Wesaam Al-Badry are presented together in his first solo exhibition at Jenkins Johnson Gallery. “The Other Language,” as the show is called, juxtaposes images of migrant field workers in California’s Central Valley and residents of the Appalachian mining town of Marianna, Pennsylvania. Here, Al-Badry seeks to overcome one of the most fundamental divides that exist – language – by communicating in a purely visual medium.

Photos taken in the Central Valley reveal the effects of the pandemic on the community of agricultural workers, almost all of whom wear masks as they pick fruit or pose in the hot sun. The Marianna series was made before the pandemic, and many of these shots show the wistful, weary faces of the city’s predominantly white residents, staring at the camera from couches or walkways. In both cases, it is the eyes that hold much of the feeling, meeting our gaze through Al-Badry’s lens.

The landscapes of Al-Badry are also evocative. One shows a road sign in Marianna showing Donald Trump’s face imposed on Rambo’s body (Al-Badry cleverly composed the plan so that a dinosaur mask, thrown nearby, looked like it was about to bite off his head of Trump). Another displays a “Farmworker Memorial” in the middle of a farm field, adorned with several roses and votives.

“The Other Language” offers a window on the two facets of American work. But the focus is always on the people who make up these communities. In fact, the humanization of his subjects is Al-Badry’s great journalistic feat, allowing them to speak to us from the inside of photography.

See also

Photo by Trina Michelle Robinson.

Trina Michelle Robinson

Excavations: past, present and future

African Diaspora Museum, 685 Mission St.
Until December 11 | Free-$12

When Trina Michell Robinson discovered a forgotten family photo album in her mother’s basement, it set her on the path to self-discovery. In addition to the pictures, the album contained newspaper clippings from the 1930s, which allowed the artist to trace her family’s migration to Chicago from Kentucky in the 1860s. it was possible to go that far back, and then she went further, following her lineage through the slave trade to Senegal, a research process that “changed my life because it gave me a feeling of identity”.

His solo exhibition, “Excavation: Past, Present and Future,” at the African Diaspora Museum, pays homage to his ancestors in a series of photographs and short films that trace the places in Africa and the United States where they lived. preceded. . Robinson’s compositions of trees and waterways carefully exclude any modern day significance, and the engravings here were made using the intaglio method, giving them a rich, charcoal-like quality. wood, which deepens this feeling of timelessness.

The house and stream videos – all brief – are accompanied by song clips, making them seem like flashes of memory rather than full narratives. The longest video, “Elegy for Nancy”, 2022, combines new archival footage of the Sacramento, Ogun and Ohio rivers, the last of which was once the boundary between freedom and slavery in the United States.

“Elegy for Nancy” is accompanied by a sculptural altar comprising wood from West and Central Africa, cotton from a black-owned farm in North Carolina, water collected from the Ohio River and other objects tracing Robinson’s own journey. These physical elements remind us that the story told by Robinson is not totally immaterial, but rather a forgotten story that she is trying to excavate by all means.

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Mildred D. Field