Sunday, November 12, 2006

Evidence - Larry Sultan & Mike Mandel

"In 1977, under the deadpan title
Evidence, the young artists Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel assembled a traveling exhibition and book that showcased 89 photographs they had selected from the files of government archives, research laboratories, corporate offices, and law enforcement agencies.
...Sultan and Mandel stripped all explanatory context from the photographs, creating a cryptic sequence of pictures that alternately suggest conceptual art projects gone wrong and surreal rituals in the name of science and commerce. The perverse wit of Evidence made it an instant classic among photographers and helped inspire uses of appropriated imagery that have characterized artistic practice since the 1980s."

I was flipping through the new issue of Art in America on my lunch break the other day and stumbled on a lengthy piece by Carter Ratcliff about this series. I knew Sultan was the guy behind The Valley, but had never heard of Mandel or Evidence. The article was so good I read it twice, nodding my head and muttering approvingly through a mouth full of french fries. I usually eat my lunch at a little diner type place that my co-workers call the "old folks home," so a lot of the other customers there were doing the same thing.
Unfortunately, the article doesn't seem to be available online, otherwise I would have quoted just about all of it. Go steal yourself a copy or something.