Mitch Epstein is one of the other artists whose work I’ve seen before, and was happy to see again today. There weren’t that many photos in the show, and most of them I had seen before, but still they capture—at least these one’s do—something sublime about the 70s. Foreshadowing the Walls and Crewdsons of our time. Their willingness to go out into the world seems almost touching. But as my earlier post on Crewdson indicates, I’m not a big fan of his work. A picture such as this one seems so manipulative to me, so gratuitous in its drama. Epstein, like Bill Owens, who I wrote about in my last Chelsea post, has a kind of naiveté, or perhaps earnestness, about his work. Not simplistic, but earnest.
Having said that, Epstein’s photos can seem gratuitous in their own way. Why is one looking? What is it one is thinking about the subject? I sense that Epstein is often mocking, and that gets tiring.