Sept/Oct/Nov 2007

Analogue

Eric Banks


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“Home is where one starts from. As we grow older / The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated / Of dead and living.” Zoe Leonard appends Analogue, which draws together selected photographs from her 1998–2007 series documenting storefronts on the lower rungs of New York’s socio-economic ladder (think Domsey’s) and the rag trade in markets in Uganda, Poland, and elsewhere, with a cut-and-paste collection of quotes, like the one above from T. S. Eliot’s “East Coker.” This writerly assemblage is more revealing of Leonard’s work than is the usual catalogue essay (the photos were included in an exhibition, curated by Helen Molesworth, at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, last summer), for the Benjaminian text-made-of-quotations mimics in form the preceding eighty-three photographs by this modern-day Atget. Each image could stand on its own as a moving document; in their linear unfolding, though, they become a strange and estranging amalgam of Becher-esque typologizing and Helen Levitt–style study of urban incident. Or, in the words that Leonard chose to title her collection of quotes, “A Continuous Signal.”

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