An overview of three decades of art photography, encompassing elegant black-and-white images, multiple-exposure manipulations, and bright, natural landscapes.
The digital realm may be the default medium of most contemporary photographers, but Miesch hardly needs it. As she describes in her introduction, film “accepts perfection or imperfection, cause or effect, and nature or nurture as inevitable elements of the human experience.” In the 229 images here, she begins with accomplished black-and-white street scenes from 1987 New Orleans, begins to experiment with text and in-camera manipulation, and, by the late ’90s, settles firmly into vividly colored landscape work with occasional portraits and figure studies. Miesch’s frequent manipulations follow a path first cut by Anton Giulio Bragaglia, which he called “photodynamism” in his 1911 book Fotodinamismo Futurista. Indeed, Miesch’s work is the future of Bragaglia’s dreams. The vortex of swirling stars in “It moves & I grow unsteady” and “…and I see double” recall Linda Connor’s images of trailing starlight, but in full color, with deepening scales of blue and a heavy frame of tree silhouettes. “Garage land” and “D & J Stor” pay homage to Ralph Eugene Meatyard’s frightening Halloween masks but create more urgent effects with images of arrows, grimaces, and a striking red door. Multiple exposures render Texas foliage hallucinogenic in “Hot Springs Canyon” and double the colors of Sonoma rocks in several series centering on an abandoned mine called The Cedars. At their least potent, these experiments can resemble wayward family snapshots, as in the raft trip of “Ladybird mind.” But at their best, these transpositions are surprising. By positioning her lens left and low for one exposure, right and high for the next, Miesch makes the Torre del Mangia—an old chestnut of a subject—into something eerie and mysterious, as a rising tower haunts another already risen. Readers may crave more street photography in the latter sections; Miesch’s early work in that genre is so intriguing that readers will be naturally curious to see what she’d do with it now. However, most of the later images are successful on their own terms.
A remarkable gathering of experimental scenes from a master photographer.