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Indepth Arts News:

"Made in LA: Photography by Brad Elterman, Estevan Oriol, Norman Scott"
2006-07-08 until 2006-09-02
Bamboo Lane Gallery
Los Angeles, CA, USA United States of America

Sensational, intimate and insightful. Brad Elterman, Estevan Oriol and Norman Scott's photographs render a Los Angeles that even Los Angelinos hardly have the access to witness. Iconographic photographer Brad Elterman's career started with a borrowed camera at the age of 16. His first photo, of Bob Dylan performing onstage, was published in 1974. In the 70's and 80's, Elterman documented a real LA history of superstars in an impossibly individualized fashion. Photos of celebrities can be dubious when it comes to the realm of fine art, but not so with the work of Elterman.

These pictures are haunting, candid, captivating affairs part Nan Goldin, part Diane Arbus, and all human. The magic in his photos lies in the intimacy reflected between the subjects and Elterman: Madonna is staring right at Elterman and his camera, while disregarding hundreds of photographers in the same press room; and Debbie Harry strikes a lethargic pose by a broken chair alone with Elterman in the backstage of Whisky A Go Go. The stories behind each photo evoke endless nostalgia for the accelarated years of 70's and 80's in Hollywood.

Having lived in the Hispanic neighborhood of Los Angeles and been closely connected with renowned musicians and film artists, Estevan Oriol has a unique perspective of people who form Los Angeles. His photographs oscillate between intimidating street warriors and famous rappers, sweet Latin girls next door and celebrated actors. Oriol has a brilliant way of evincing the characters on their own terms in their own environments. In all his photos, whether Snoop Dogg posing in front a sign of "Beware of the dog", or Adrien Brody cruising downtown Los Angeles in a vintage car, whether vigorous youngsters in South Central or a screaming Japanese man being tattooed, the subjects and their surroundings enhance each other inseparably. The result is the resounding visual impact. While providing a stage for the characters to plot their own narratives, Oriol cleverly creates a substantial distance between viewers and subjects. He is not even pretending to offer a glimpse of any truth behind the glamour of public figures or the menace of the street life. The absence of personal revelation and the inaccessibility are unapologetically appealing, because myths invite our curiosity.

Responding to Oriol's intensity of the urban culture, another Los Angeles photographer, Norman Scott's approach to the subjects is equally dramatic, yet more personal. The son of a talented photographer, Scott inherited his father's passion and intelligence. Using an infrared digital camera, Scott reveals the anxiety and allegories in the dimmed backstage during the six weeks of the performance of a theatrical play: "The Happy End", of which he was also a part of the cast. The affect of the series of photos lies significantly in the affection of Scott for the life in the theater. The intimate distance between the camera and the subjects betrays a great sense of self-reflection. Every captured second was full of sound and movement. The subjects in his photos were in a peculiar moment of between two realities: the reality as common people whom viewers can relate to and the reality as narrated characters disguised under make-up and costumes. Scott's intentions of exposing viewers to the sensitivity of life-off-spot-light are vividly conveyed through his objective manner of shooting and the decisive using of the infrared camera. To further reveal the personable notion of the actors in the backstage, Scott juxtaposes a group of photos of mannequins, shot in a closed department store. The mannequins were in the similar darkness and with similar artificial outward. The quietness and motionless of the mannequins tune up the liveliness of the actors.


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