Benrubi Gallery presents “Unwired”, the latest solo exhibition from internationally acclaimed photographer Jacqueline Hassink. Unwired was born from Hassink’s desire to find places that offer neither cell phone reception nor wifi capability. The result is a series of arresting landscapes and interiors which stand in deliberate contrast to “iPortrait” (on view in the project room), featuring photographs of public transportation users in Beijing, Moscow, New York, Tokyo, and other metropolises.
For the photographs in “Unwired”, Hassink traveled as far afield as Yakushima, an island in the extreme south of Japan, and Svalbard, a Norwegian island near the Polar Circle. The landscapes are an intense study in blues and greens, by turns vivid and subdued, and shifting perspectives and horizon lines, some immeasurably vast, others foreshortened by curtains of vegetation. The contrasts make the viewer acutely conscious both of his or her body and its relationship to space.
If the immediate effect is isolating, it gradually relaxes into the sense of being part of a different kind of network, global in the most literal sense of being “of the earth”. This feeling carries over into the exhibition’s two interiors, both of which emphasize the viewer’s perspective and the experience of looking, as well as the natural processes of decay and dilapidation.
The message is clear: the things people make can be beautiful and useful, but they’re temporary. On the one hand, this reflects an awareness mono no aware, the Japanese aesthetic of the awareness of impermanence, but when we relate it back to the threatened environments in the landscapes we see a more pointed critique of an industrialized society.
This sense is only heightened by iPortrait, itself shot on several iPhones, that features images of subway and train riders using their smartphones. The environments are crowded but the photographs communicate the isolation of people lost inside their screens.
In contrast to the feeling of connectivity that smartphone and communications companies relentlessly sell us, we see a series of individual cut off both from their immediate surroundings and, as suggested by the vast urban areas these means of transportation cover, the places they live as well. People interact not with their world but an idea of it, and in so doing may lose themselves as well.
Jacqueline Hassink was born in 1966 in Enschede, the Netherlands. Following studies at the Royal Art Academy of the Hague, she graduated from the Art Academy of Trondheim, Norway, in 1992, majoring in sculpture. Now based in New York, she is best known for her global photo art projects that deal with the world of economic power.
Her work represents visual, graphic, and sociological maps of the axes of global economic structures. She also has a related interest in the identity of a space and what defines the private and public realms.
Benrubi Gallery, founded in 1987 by the late Bonni Benrubi, is one of the leading photography galleries in the United States with a focus on 20th Century and contemporary works.
The gallery’s program includes important established mid-career artists such as Stéphane Couturier, Doug Hall, Jacqueline Hassink, Laura McPhee, Simon Norfolk, Matthew Pillsbury, Richard Renaldi, and Massimo Vitali as well as such emerging notable talents as Delphine Burtin, Eric Cahan, and Lauren Semivan.
Benrubi Gallery continues to develop long-term relationships with museums, private collectors and corporations around the world, placing photographs in such institutional collections as the Amon Carter Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Baltimore Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Library of Congress, the Cleveland Museum of Art, LACMA, the Metropolitan Museum, MOMA, the Nelson Atkins Museum, SFMOMA, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the Tate Modern.