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Show and Tell: Tim Davis

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‘I’ve never lit anything, or used a flash,” says photographer Tim Davis. “Lighting is put into the world, like any part of architecture, to control our behaviors. And I’m interested in working against that.” In his latest series, “Illilluminations,” light doesn’t reveal so much as strip, desensitize, and ultimately obscure; airport scanners flay handbags, neon signs compete with reflected sunsets, and searchlights crown a drab block in South Jersey (pictured) in a discomfiting conflation of the Towers of Light memorial and the cinematically contrived suburbia of Gregory Crewdson. Careering from portrait to still life to landscape, and from small- to large-scale, Davis flouts the modern collector’s preference for a coherent group of supersize prints with a clear narrative. He’s also turning a critical eye on the language of photography. “Normally light is a kind of grammar—‘Oh, the light was good, he has good light,’ ” says Davis. “I was sussing out ways that light could move more toward the level of syntax, something that is itself being said.”

At Greenberg Van Doren Gallery
February 15 through March 18


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