Accessing ‘Unframed’


By Tanya Silverman

All photos by Tanya Silverman.

“Next time you get a bagel to go,” proposes Floor Grootenhuis, “perhaps you can discover who made your paper bag?”

Is there a new app for that information? Can you scan a code into your smart phone, or type a keyword into an instant search engine? Quite the opposite, actually, is possible. You can, oftentimes, take the physical paper bag, flip it over, to read the name, and the date printed on its bottom–like Gabe Moldando, whose prided product was manufactured in 2012.

Commenting on the disconnected digital age we experience, Floor Grootenhuis played on her idea to “bring the natural, physical and everyday world back into the human experience,” by installing a large-scale, site-specific sculpture of brown and white paper bags. Without a pedestal, the collection of carefully connected crumpled objects hangs from the ceiling as the centerpiece for Unframed, an exhibit at Brooklyn’s FiveMyles gallery.

Unframed is a short-term summer show that’s meant to highlight emerging, underexposed artists. Hanne Tierney, the gallery’s owner, says her original idea for Unframed came from the fact she “never fully decided” how photographs should be shown, adding that the process and presentation of framing can cause a disconnect to the “emotional reactions the photographer had to the subject.”

Approachable photos without frames are therefore present, like Francelle Jones’ colorful, eye-locking portraits of Caribbean people young and old. More chilling and distant is the series of wintry black-and-white Manhattan street shots by Kerwin Williamson, where humans are captured in their habitat as anonymous pedestrians bundled in warm hats and coats, rushing off to elsewhere.

Gustavo Azael Torres’ unframed drawings resemble “journal entries,” where he writes out repeated statements like “I’m okay” or “I surrender” to compose the human bodies, landscapes, or faces he portrays on white paper. Up close and personal, the viewer can get lost by reading along the curving lines of emotional writing–without any censoring glare from unnecessary glass.

By omitting frames and pedestals, we can explore lots of levels of creative and conceptual intimacy.