Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sondheim Prize: Bet on Mark

A while back, five artists (two photographers, a sculptor, a film director, and a multimedia artist) were selected to compete for this year's $25,000 Janet & Walter Sondheim Artscape prize.

The five are Baltimoreans Stephanie Barber (multimedia), Matthew Porterfield (film) and Rachel Rotenberg (sculpture), and Washington area photographers, Louie Palu and Mark Parascandola.

The Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts and the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) will present a special exhibition of the five 2011 finalists at the BMA. Finalists’ works will be exhibited in the Alvin and Fanny Blaustein Thalheimer Galleries of the BMA from Saturday, June 25 through Sunday, August 7. The winner of the prize will be announced on July 9.

My bet? Mark Parascandola; for the competition he will:

For the competition, Parascandola presented his current body of work: photographic prints of abandoned constructions in Almeria, Spain. Almeria was discovered by European and American filmmakers in the 1960s, when they began using the area for building its impermanent backdrops and fake towns. “Lawrence of Arabia” and Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, for example, were filmed there. The artist is connected to the area through his mother’s family. Because of this personal attachment, he is compelled to document its stark desert landscape.

On exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art will be 12 photographic prints, chosen by Parascandola, mixing images of the western movies sets along with some images of the surrounding landscape and more recent constructions to provide context. The larger pieces are constructed from multiple images to create a single panoramic image.

The show will examine two atypical versions of the ghost town. Today some of the elaborate movie sets remain in the desert. While select few have been fixed up for tourists, others remain largely in ruins. The artist is also presenting his works that examine the empty residential enclaves and vacation developments along the Almerian coast. These properties were abandoned or left empty after the economic crisis and real estate crash.
Go Mark!


susana said...

Not so sure you are on the mark here, Lenny. Louie has been working on his Afghanistan project for nearly a decade. Didn't Gregory Crewdson just unveil a similar project on the abandoned spaghetti western sets of spain, but in black and white? At any rate, the work is lovely, but i think perhaps Louie's work is more powerful. But then again, the judging is completely personal - but would be happy to place a wager. Best,

Lenny said...

I'd never bet against you!


Mark said...

Thanks Lenny! This will definitely be a great exhibit overall and tough competition among all five finalists.

Crewdson photographed Cinecitta studios in Rome recently, but his project is very different both visually and conceptually. Come see the show to compare!