Social Photography IX

carriage trade
277 Grand Street, 2nd Floor
New York
Lower East Side

When Carriage Trade began its annual “Social Photography” more than ten years ago, the iPhone 4 had just come out; Instagram was in its nascent stage. Now a decade out the world is a vastly different place. The supremacy of the personal cell phone camera has become unassailable, an integral part of modern society—from the banal ledger-keeping of daily life, to the screen grabs that serve as a new form of note taking, to the rise of selfies, and the recordings which drive international movements. “Social Photography IX,” the ninth iteration of this show, includes a lengthy roster of artists, priced at an affordable $50 - $75 to support the gallery program.

Though Carriage Trade issued no categorical guidelines for this exhibition, a cluster of through lines seem to dial into a shared feeling. There are Blue Chip artists such as Lousie Lawler, James Welling, and B. Wurtz who contribute works to the show. Jeanne Liotta’s image is a tribute to the luminary artist, teacher, and musician, Barbara Ess, who passed away earlier this year. Trevor Shimizu and Norman Brosterman both offer pictures of paintings, as if the yearning for art had become overwhelming. Complementing claustrophobic images taken of the outside from within, or marking the thresholds therein, by Robert Goldman and Almost Not are included. As are images of suspension, with no outward markers of the pandemic, which induce a sense of purgatorial unease: Mika Lee’s photograph of a basketball in mid-air, and Erik La Prade’s image of an analog scale pointing at “0.” Though the show is better read as a diffuse archive than a “counterpoint to placelessness,” (as the press release suggests), that’s nothing to sneeze at: across the span of “Social Photography IX” Carriage Trade has documented the rise of a sensibility—albeit more nuanced, diverse, and ineffable than a random image culled from one’s personal cell phone camera.

Julia Wachtel, Untitled, 2021. Inkjet print, 7 x 5 inches.