In a recent The New Yorker piece curator and novelist Hanya Yanagihara dwells on the subject of loneliness, a condition that seems inevitably to go with the territory of pointing a camera. Yanagihara references The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, by Olivia Laing - where implicit in Laing's book - loneliness, a realm most deeply inhabited, and fluently expressed, by visual artists...
Yanagihara opines - loneliness belongs to the photographer. To be a photographer is to willingly enter the world of the lonely, because it is an artistic exercise in invisibility... the photographer moves through the world, our world, hoping for anonymity, hoping she (he) is able to humble herself (himself) enough to see and record what the rest of us - in our noisy perambulations, in our requests to be heard - are too present to our own selves to ever see. To practice this art requires first a commitment to self-erasure.
It is also why so many great photographs concern loneliness. The lens may distance the photographer from the rest of humanity, but with that distance comes an enhanced ability to see what is overlooked and under-loved.
These sentiments inform the show How I Learned to See, recently curated by Hanya Yanagihara at Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco.
The exhibition is organized into six sections on the subjects of loneliness, love, aging, solitude, beauty, and discovery. There is an idiosyncratic mix, with iconic and less familiar works by 12 artists: Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Elisheva Biernoff, Harry Callahan, Lee Friedlander, Nan Goldin, Katy Grannan, Peter Hujar, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Richard Misrach, Nicholas Nixon, Alec Soth, and Hiroshi Sugimoto.
You can read the full New Yorker piece HERE and go to Fraenkel Gallery HERE.
How I Learned to See finishes 20th August.
Hanya Yanagihara is an American novelist whose most recent book, A Little Life, was a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award and shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize and the 2016 Baileys Prize for Fiction.