MOYRA DAVIE: AMERICAN FINE ARTS CO • NEW YORK, NEW YORK


left:
Moyra Davie, untitled (file),1999 c-print
right:
Moyra Davie, untitled (pile),
c-print

Moyra Davie’s first show at American Fine Arts Co was a series of photographs of newsstands as taken from around the country. Her interest is in sites which function as places of industry, and which have a place in our daily lives. For her second show,
Davie has turned the camera upon her home and study, which are filled with collections and agglomerations of objects. The mood that pervades never seems to be manipulated but results in a natural consequence of amassment or neglect—both very human habits.
Davie takes a very specific sort of photograph: a landscape which is created not from visual tricks via technology but from objects themselves, organized into sets and genres, or left where they are and portrayed in such a manner as to allow a narrative to form as the immediate environment which they populate and widens immeasurably. This is achieved with found objects, which are in themselves a constellation of various visual elements that are revealed through the focus of the camera lens. The eye of the viewer may tend to rove through these images, searching for some element of commonality, as for a referent to interests of hers that intersect with their own. This was at first found by me in a trio of images: records/birdsongs, records/glass, and records/greatest hits. These pictures were a cross-view of Davie’s record collection, a historical rarity in this age of compact discs and MP3s, yet also nostalgic. The arrangement of these items, photographed in an almost posed disarray, shows a collection of someone for whom the record cases hold a value as objects as well. glad shows a pale yellow refrigerator covered with various pieces of paper such as recipes or news articles, etc, and boxes of cereal, containers of laundry detergent, and garbage bags are lined up along its upper edge. The ordered surfaces and spatial areas captured in this image stand in direct contrast to other images such as klh radios, tubes & wire, scissors, coins, wire, and red thread, in which close-up photographs shows how colors and textures are an equal part of her immediate environment even when the object itself has an otherwise functional or theoretical value.
These photographs are bound by the formal arrangement of her “set,” and by the narrative that binds all of its physical elements together, the sense of someone taking stock of their most intimate, immediate surroundings, in which she learns not to take even a single inch of area for granted. Davie transforms this area into a storyboard for intimate passions.

David Gibson
New York, New York
2000