at Blue Sky Gallery
1231 NW Hoyt St., 225-0210
Blue Sky Gallery features two photographers who use the camera in distinctly different fashions. In a vibrant use of color photography, Catherine Chalmers presents 20 large prints from a series entitled Food Chain. Chalmers attempts to capture the realities of this dog eat dog, er rather, bug eat bug world.
The sequence begins with worms devouring a tomato from inside out. The worms are then annihilated by a preying mantis, which is then introduced to a hungry frog, and so forth.
The images advance a disgust factor with which the viewer is forced to reckon. The mantis consuming a tomato-filled worm results in a "bloody" homicide. The swift death of the mantis at the frog's whimsy is startling. Like Marlin Perkins' Wild Kingdom, Chalmers unfolds a biological drama.
Yet the series relies heavily on the idea of spectacle, which does not lead to lasting power. Additionally defeating is Chalmers' placement of the subjects in the center of a white background. The resulting image is tied to advertising, appearing more like a carefully constructed Gap ad than an emotive work of art. Fabio Sgroi offers a contrasting visual experience in a series of black & white images which document Sicilian Easter rituals. Despite a few technical flaws, Sgroi's series is compelling.
One of the most striking images is entitled "Good Friday, Prizzi, 1992." Sgroi uses the foreground to partially reveal the identity of a cloaked figure. Standing on a hill above Prizzi, the figure takes control of the perspective, dominating the village below. An ominous tone set, the scene is embellished with an overcast sky and a focus on the figure's hands. Aged hands hold tightly to a crucifix. Of course, the implied narrative is related to Sgroi's exploration of a religious event. However, "Good Friday," like the rest of the series, transcends the parameters of documentation. The films offer insights into the essence of any ritual and illustrations of macabre nightmares.