“Captured in bars, clubs and other public locations in Washington and Miami, Jencso’s subjects are mesmerized by what she calls their “looking glasses”’
by Mark Jenkins
The alienating influence of the Internet is not conspicuous in Alan Schaller’s work, but it is in Kaitlin Jencso’s. The photographs in her Hamiltonian Gallery show, “Looking Glass,” show people in the act of staring at their mobile phones. Captured in bars, clubs and other public locations in Washington and Miami, Jencso’s subjects are mesmerized by what she calls their “looking glasses” — taking inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s sequel to “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
The Washington photographer shoots in color, but she shares Schaller’s interest in deep shadows punctuated by narrow swaths of intense light. Camera flashes, pinpoint illumination, hanging tinsel, a glittery night, pink glow behind glass doors and mirrored reflections on a red bar are among the show’s vivid highlights. Jencso also shoots an empty bus from outside, which has an effect similar to that of “Metropolis’s” transit vignettes.
While Schaller’s people seem heedless of their place in the world, Jencso’s appear highly self-aware. As they commune with their devices, these phone-heads are always ready for their close-ups. In Jencso’s pictures, the online realm can draw people down the rabbit hole, but also inspire them to pose and strut in plain sight.
Also at Hamiltonian, Istanbul-bred Baltimorean Sera Boeno is showing a sculptural installation flanked by pieces of her intricately filigreed bronze jewelry. Both the sculpture and jewelry were designed for performances that comment on the status of women in Turkish society.
The dominant object in “Kelimeler Kiyafetsiz (Words Naked/Are Not Enough)” is an altar modeled on a much larger and more ornate Hellenistic one excavated in Turkey in the late 19th century. (It was sent to Berlin, where it remains in the Pergamon Museum, a storehouse of fabulous looted treasures.) Boeno has covered her simulation of the ancient artifact with recent comments about women from the Turkish mass media.