Whitney Hubbs’ series The Song Itself is Already a Skip was presented in LA-based M+B Gallery’s booth at the New Art Dealers Association (NADA) New York art fair this year. It was presented in combination with Jessica Eaton’s work, and this was the only “straight photography” I saw on view at that fair.
Although I had trouble finding the connection between Hubbs and Eaton’s photos, with a roster of artists such as Sam Falls and Matthew Brandt whose works ride the line between photography, painting, and sculpture, it made sense to see M+B Gallery in the context of this very fine art oriented fair. It’s comforting to me to see photographers alongside the edgiest of contemporary artists like this—too often straight photography is ghettoized and separated from the world of fine art.
A Los Angeles-based photographer, Hubbs lingers sensually on the dark half of the gradient. Fawning over the monochrome transition from light to dark, she creates an elegant nightmare, a beauty of shadowy secrets. The camera renders only that which light touches, and the zones left black are central to the allure of Hubbs’ photographs. They prevent you from reading any kind of narrative into the work, and mandate a more nebulous way of looking at the pictures, accumulating in an overall mood rather than a story.
This withholding of information by Hubbs is not coy. Instead, the shadows pursue a guttural reaction, a sense-driven response. The photos revolve around nothingness, and this creates a tension strong enough to bind them together. And for photos of nothing, these make me feel an awful lot.
Feature Shoot Contributing Editor Matthew Leifheit is an independent writer, curator, and photographer based in New York City.