by Anthony Georgis, Motel Gallery, 19 NW 5th, through April 30
The history of any hotel room is filled with possibility: drugs, murder, suicide, sex. But what most hotel stays really consist of: boredom, loneliness, daydreaming in a silence broken only by the monotonous chat of cable news anchors and the groans of pay-per-view porn.
Anthony Georgis' series of photographs, A Night Without You, explores the events of one of these seemingly mundane hotel stays. One can piece together a narrative from the various shots--a hotel key, a torn shower curtain, an empty disheveled bed--but collectively, the photographs trace an outline around the missing "you" of the show's title. This world, emptied of people, is filled with a sense of mystery and lack. While hotel rooms usually serve as settings for seedy plots and stylized voyeurism, A Night Without You is charged with an aesthetic of absence and nothingness.
Many of the works contrast dark interiors with light seeping in from curtained windows, cracked doors, or the muted glow of television screens. Overall, it is emotionally isolating and a little claustrophobic--effects that are only heightened if you get the chance to stand in Motel's small gallery space by yourself, surrounded on all sides by photographs depicting alienation. This could easily come off as overly sentimental, but the works' flat compositions and cool lack of humanity avoid any sense of cloying manipulation. Georgis' photographs seem to celebrate the beauty of loneliness. The curtains are drawn on purpose. The sun outside is ignored in favor of the diffused light provided by a cheap lamp and a small television. It is not about imagining what could have been (a night WITH you), but about documenting the frail instant of what really is.
Georgis recently had a nice grid of photographs, Metro Transfer Station, up at Gallery 500 for the Sin Tax show. That work explored a Northwest Portland dump, and paired with Motel's current exhibit, reveals a knack for finding redemptive beauty in the quiet worlds of discarded things and lonely people.