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Review: Go Do Good/Chicago Photography Collective

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Emily Long


Take eleven veteran Chicago photographers and set them to the task of showcasing the deeds of civic, social service and political activist groups—inspired by the Kay Rosen public art project “Go Do Good”—and most of them end up producing images that could grace brochures and newspaper features—everything and everyone are resolutely goody-goody to the max. The one stellar exception is Emily Long, who chose to document the work of Preservation Chicago by shooting the buildings on the group’s list of “the most at-risk architectural treasures” with a pinhole camera. The distortions of shape and the chiaroscuro effects of the pinhole transform Long’s subjects into structures that seem to be plucked from a surreal gothic romance. Surrounded by murky shadowy black, Children’s Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park, which will soon be vacated, appears in a circle of dull light, isolated like a castle in Transylvania. Long subverts “goodness” and dissolves document into fantasy with welcome effect. (Michael Weinstein)

Through October 1 at the Chicago Photography Collective, 108 North State.

2 Responses to “Review: Go Do Good/Chicago Photography Collective”

  1. flip89 Says:

    Great job Emily (and thanks Michael)!

  2. empokay Says:

    Well deserved credit to Emily for taking a fresh approach ! She “did good” herself by drawing attention to Preservation Chicago’s list, helping the critic and the public see those buildings in a new way, finding an application for a technique that many often dismiss as an arty gimmick or throwback, or at best a teaching tool. Congratulations indeed.

    Too bad the writer only appreciated the most obvious departure from straight documentary work. Ron Gordon also broke new ground by sequencing multiple images in single frames and arranging his whole wall to deepen the emotional impact of his essay. The viewer’s eye jumps around his layout, gathering information and context here, inspiration there, a spot of color somewhere else, to form a rich experience of the making and the enjoyment of the community garden. I know Weinstein is familiar with Gordon’s work, and I’m surprised that this leap in it’s expressive power escaped his usually perceptive notice.

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