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Volkswagen With Figure
© Leland Rice; Courtesy the artist and Michael Dawson Gallery
"The Visual Dialogue Foundation: Vintage Photographs by Judy Dater, Oliver Gagliani,
Leland Rice, and Don Worth, 1968-1978" is at the Michael Dawson Gallery through April 28
The conversation that the Visual Dialogue Foundation wanted to strike up was, according to a 1972 statement, between an "older generation" of photographers and younger ones "groping for a position of relevance to geometrically changing times."
The wide-angle lens that Leland Rice used for the photograph shows the strain on the geometry. It permitted him to keep the misty landscape - a subject inherited from earlier generations of Northern California photography - in perspective while also capturing the "gothic" effect (as Rice calls it) of the face in the car window. Rice and his contemporaries wanted to make more inclusive images. They stretched not only the photographic frame, but the historical framework in which photography was discussed. To achieve this, Rice has also written essays and curated exhibitions.
Half the pictures by Rice in this show were taken through windows, as if, whether he was inside or outside, he needed to bring different points of view together. Like the seeming distortion in the Volkswagen's image, jumps in scale or optical eccentricities in other photographs make you wonder whether he wasn't tripping out in the darkroom. But all these photographs are realities seen in an unaltered state.
[Originally published in West Magazine : April 1, 2007, p.9]