On October 15th as part of a larger artistic revitalization occurring in the Financial District, Anderson Contemporary, run by gallerist Ronni Anderson, opened their doors at 180 Maiden Lane with a debut exhibition featuring the work of acclaimed photographer Russell James. The show entitled Introspection also features the work of Brooklyn based artist Eleanora Kupencow.
Within Introspection there are three distinct bodies of work by James that are on display. They include Angels, Seminole Spirit and Nomad Two Worlds. James who is primarily known for his fashion and celebrity photographs, has branched out within this exhibit to showcase a more diverse range of work. The Angels series explores his more traditional portraiture style of photography and features several female subjects posed in a variety of fashions. Within this set of images the various models are posed seductively in intimate settings and attempt to capture their natural beauty and also more traditional ideas surrounding femininity.
Another group of images included in the show is The Seminole Spirit. This project began in 2012 when James, with the blessing of Chief James E. Billie, began a two year photographic investigation of The Seminole Tribe of Florida. James’s investigation of the tribe centered on his “artistic interpretation.” The project took yet another turn in 2013, when James began working with supermodel Behati Prinsloo as an artistic collaborator. As the project progressed Ms. Prinsloo would come to appear as the ‘Seminole Spirit’ “a metaphor for the strength, vision, beauty and cultural relevance” that James says “emanates from the tribe.” This resulted in a set of striking photographs of Prinsloo in this role. The Seminole Spirit in Introspection culminates in a large scale installation that features a short form documentary and film about the tribe in addition to the photographs.
Created in a similar vein, Nomad Two Worlds is a larger collaborative effort between several indigenous artists from Australia, Haiti and Florida. Inspired by now famous 2008 apology by then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to the Aboriginal People of Australia, James worked with these artists by giving them several photographs of landscapes that he had taken. The artists then used the photographs “as a canvas upon which to paint their story.” the end result is visually stimulating mixed media works that capture these larger histories.
James’ unique photographs were complimented by sculptor Eleanora Kupencow’s work which is placed around the periphery of the gallery space. Drawing on a variety of imagery ranging from Modern art to the iconography of Mayan, Aboriginal, and Native American people, Kupencow has created two large scale sculptures standing 10′ high that greet viewers as they enter the space. Done in heavy gauged aluminum and later power coated in bright red and sunset-gold “The Jitterbugs” and “The Interfacing Couple” helped to ground the conceptual aspects of the show.
Both sculptures sit on top of “anodized silver bases” and depict the sculptures “in motion—one in a lively dance; the other in an animated dialogue.” It is this larger interaction between these two sculptures and James photography that help to push the show into another direction as well. While there is some overlap in terms of the imagery that Kupencow and James are drawing inspiration from, they bring a very different perspective in their work.
Introspection is on view until November20th at Anderson Contemporary located at 180 Maiden Lane in the Financial District.
Elanora Kupencow’s work will be up until March 2016.
Writing by Anni Irish
Photographs provided by the gallery and the artist