Reviewed: “To the Ends of the Earth” at Adamson Gallery
Don’t get too literal about the title of the exhibit “To the Ends of the Earth.” While some of the 13 photographs by four artists were taken in such isolated locales as Antarctica and Greenland, many were taken in more familiar spots, such as the Gulf Coast and the farmlands of Kansas. The images share a format (large), a printing quality (exquisite) and an outdoors sensibility, but beyond that, the works diverge. Two of the photographers document disasters. Edward Burtynsky, a master of finding beauty in ecological despoliation, tackles the BP oil spill, while Robert Polidori offers selections from his meticulous and voluminous book documenting the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. By contrast, Alfredo de Stefano takes a page from the conceptual art of Andy Goldsworthy and Gabriel Orozco by arranging natural objects in out-of-place settings, such as stacking blocks of ice in a desert. And Camille Seaman photographs a range of environmental settings, from looming tornadoes to distant icebergs. Burtynsky’s images don’t represent his finest work, but his photograph featuring a tiny zip of a boat coursing through the massive oil slick (below) does encapsulate the scale of the disaster in one impressively concise visual. Still, the standout of this show is Seaman. In one image (top), she depicts an enormous thunderhead on the plains, dwarfing a collection of farm buildings. In an even more stunning photograph, Seaman captures a series of three almost perfectly rectangular icebergs floating side by side—a breathtaking, and unexpected, bit of geometrical formalism in a harsh natural environment.
Through Oct. 29 at the Adamson Gallery, 1515 14th St NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 232 0707. Open Tue-Fri, 11:30-5:00 and Sat 12:00-5:00.