For the inaugural edition of PHOTOFAIRS San Francisco 2017, De Soto Gallery will present a selection of works by Denis Darzacq, Laura Plageman, and Osamu Yokonami that bring together distinct but interrelated pairs of series by each artist.
Darzacq’s series, La Chute (2005-2006) and Act (2011-2013) capture the poetic expressionism of bodies in motion. La Chute was initially inspired by images Darzacq made of hip-hop dancers in Algeria auditioning to tour with a French dance company during the Gulf War. Years later, recalling their intense desire for a creative outlet and struck by the inherent tension of these figures caught between the ground and the sky, Darzacq set out recreate this body language in the streets of Paris. In 2005, after a series of riots spread throughout the city, he asked young dancers and athletes from immigrant neighborhoods where much of the unrest arose to collaborate with him. La Chute became a metaphor for a younger generation — not just in Paris but throughout Europe and beyond — full of energy, potential, and resilience, wanting to speak for itself but caught between the social and political crossroads of our times. For Act, Darzacq showed prospective collaborators — artists, actors, and athletes with disabilities— images from La Chute and suggested that they too might speak through their bodies to express freedom from limitations and to be perceived differently. Believing that people with disabilities are too often hidden from public view, he set out to emulate the energy of La Chute with participants facing challenges like cerebral palsy and Down’s Syndrome.
Plageman’s series Response, Land (2006-2011) and Response, Sea (2012-2014) oscillate between image and object, photography and sculpture. Each piece is a “response” to an original image that is sculpted and collaged into a tabletop assemblage and re-photographed. Plageman regards the places she photographs as object-like themselves in the way they are experienced (usually through a camera) and recorded, continually changing shape through layers of interpretation, forces of nature, and human impact. These perpetual new renditions are characterized by subtle compositional distortions, hovering between reality and artifice — a cumulative record of her observations and experimentation over time and space. As Plageman shifts her gaze from land to sea, her attention to the materiality of the photograph gets pushed even further into abstraction, encapsulating the transience and dynamism of our world.
Through rhythmic repetition and seriality, Osamu Yokonami contemplates socialization and cultural homogeneity. His series 1000 Children (2010-2013) and Assembly (2012-2014) — created in tandem and at roughly the same time — consider the complexities of identity, drawing an essential congruence between individual expression and communal belonging. In Assembly, Yokonami explores dualistic conceptions of selfhood and the fine line between innocence and vice. With a formal simplicity that emphasizes group dynamics, his cinematic scenes explore how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. Like a macro-lens counterbalance to Assembly, 1000 Children highlights the subtleties of individuality and in reverse the power of our universal collectivity. In stark, half-length portraits, similarly uniformed schoolgirls pose with a piece of fruit held precariously between the left ear and shoulder. The slightest differences stand out but viewed collectively they teeter between singularity and homogeneousness.
Denis Darzacq (b. 1961, Paris, France) has exhibited extensively throughout Europe and internationally. He received a World Press Photo Award in 2007 and the Niépce Prize in 2012. He has published a number of books, most recently: Act (2011), Hyper (2009), and La Chute (2007). His work is included in numerous public and private collections including Centre Pompidou, Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Bidwell Projects, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Darzacq is based in Paris, France.
Laura Plageman (b. 1976, Berkeley, CA) received her BA from Wesleyan University and MFA from California College of the Arts where she has held various academic appointments. Her work has been in exhibited in galleries and institutions across the US, including recent exhibitions at Photo Center Northwest in Seattle and Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago. She lives and works in Oakland, California.
Osamu Yokonami (b. 1967, Kyoto, Japan) has had recent solo exhibitions in Japan and the United States, and participated in the Daegu Photo Biennial. He has published two monographs, Assembly (2015) and 1000 Children (2014). His personal and commercial work is widely known in Japan, appearing regularly in numerous publications. Yokonami is based in Tokyo, Japan.