The world occurs in color, not black and white. B&W photography was a technical necessity or limitation before it became an aesthetic or stylistic choice with its own signifiers. At the advent of black and white photography, specifically B&W celluloid photography, it must have been startling to see the world along a continuum of black and white tones, as a scale of beautifully interpretive shades of gray.
B&W: Two Photographers, provides a view of what photography was for the Pentax generation of yesterday and what it still is and can be for today’s generation. Medianoche presents the past and present work of Maximo Colon and Elisa Perea in order to drive home a point: Celluloid photography is alive and well. While digital photography dominates as an economic medium for graphical manipulation, celluloid maintains a strong presence in artistic practice.
Four decades of work, beginning in the sixties, cycles through a video wall, drawing from the exhaustive collection of photographs by Maximo Colon who has devoted half a century of his life exploring themes relevant to Latinos here and there: Their politics, their children, and their music. Latino icons such as Lolita Lebron and Salvador Allende are juxtaposed with children at play in Spanish Harlem or Jimmy Bosch in concert.
In contrast to these works and speaking softly to their documentary feel, are the “retro” photographs of Elisa Perea. While her contemporaries are seduced by the immediacy and ease of the digital, Perea remains true to celluloid. Everyday places and things are rendered with an ethereal, otherworldly softness. Even the most hard-edged among them, reveal another world order-- that of the artist’s gentle and at times quirky gaze.
For Curator Judith Escalona, “B&W may have been a technological necessity at the time of its birth, but here, at MediaNoche, in the present, it asserts itself as celluloid photography’s indisputable domain.”
The photographs do not hang as prints on walls but play in real time on flat screens and CRT monitors, a cause for further reflection about the nature of photography and the impact technology continues to have on its processes of creation and display.
Maximo Rafael Colon was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. His photographs have appeared in numerous books, journals, and documentary films, and capture the struggles of disenfranchised communities. Recent exhibitions include New York Photo Festival 2011, and the upcoming Devoción, May 2013. Maximo studied photography at the School of Visual Arts. www.maximorafaelcolon.com
Elisa Perea-Hernández was born in Nogales, Mexico. She works in film and video. Elisa’s documentary Nogales Aqui Es... was sponsored by the National Council for Culture and the Arts in Mexico and presented in several film festivals in Mexico, the U.S. and Spain. In 2011 Elisa was selected for the DIN A4 art project in Malaga, Spain. She studied at the University of Sonora, Hermosillo Sonora, Mexico, and currently resides in New York City. www.norteada.com
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