What struck me as I visited Hagedorn Foundation Gallery’s exhibition of photographers Claire Rosen and Guillermo Srodek-Hart, curated by Heidi Aishman, was the absence of human subjects, but they were neither landscapes nor still-lifes. Yet, in both, a human presence can be felt; humanity appears as a sort of presence of absence.
For her series “Birds of a Feather,”Rosen, who received a BFA in photography from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2006, photographed an array of colorful birds—an Amazon Parrot, a Moluccan Cockatoo and other specific species—in front of printed wallpaper. Each bird weaves into the wallpaper so well that the feathery creatures appear digitally altered and inserted. Rosen carefully paired each bird with a patterned background to create a vibrant illusion. Each bird exhibits humanlike body language and facial expressions. Is that parrot smiling with its eyes? Did the parakeet extend his beak to make his face appear longer? Look closely and you might see a Cockatoo flirting with the camera.
Rosen created her photo studio inside a New Jersey bird superstore, bringing some 200 sheets of wallpaper to ensure that each bird found its match. Her subjects appear “Top Model” ready for the camera, with their expressive eyes, beaks turned up so slightly, and colorful bodies posed in voluptuous and evocative positions for the lens. Like most of her other works, “Birds,” explores the surreal and strange with a touch of romanticism and mysticism. If the most basic house parrot is a highly emotive creature with human expressions, then perhaps an interior space can exhibit human presence while empty.
In “Stories,” Srodek-Hart hopes to capture just that. Traveling the Argentine countryside, the Latin American photographer captured the interiors of everyday places—restaurants, butcher shops, bars, warehouses, factories—seeking out unique places with a character that are themselves endangered species. From the untouched billiard ball and cue sticks lying on a pool table in Bar Morena to the assortment of tools and objects scattered on a work shelf in El Cardel, evidence of human life is vividly present. Srodek-Hart aims to show that such spaces tell stories about their occupants and histories.
In Zorro, named after the fastest horse in the region, Srodek-Hart captures a room with framed pictures of the prized horse covering an entire wall. A bottle of whiskey, a sliced apple, and teapot sit on the dining room table. The story goes that the horse died and his carcass could be viewed in a glass case in front of the house.
In different ways, Rosen and Srodek-Hart’s works are both still-lifes and interiors, and both demonstrate that there’s often more to the story than what meets the eye.
Claire Rosen’s “Birds of a Feather” and Guillermo Srodek-Hart’s “Stories” are on view at Hagedorn Foundation Gallery through November 8.
Annabella Jean-Laurent is an Atlanta-based freelance writer who blogs at militantbarbie.com. Her writing explores race, media, and gender in society.