Exhibition Review: Roe Ethridge – Rockaway Redux (on view at Andrew Kreps Gallery thru Oct. 4)

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In Rockaway Redux Roe Ethridge continues to carve out his position as a kind of Paul Outerbridge for the post-modern era, creating pleasingly off-kilter photographs in a wild array of styles that refract the banal world of commercial photography to disquieting effect. None of these images go so far into the realm of the perverse as, say, Outerbridge’s Women with Claws (1937), but there is a feeling in Ethridge's images of too-pretty sunsets and his awkward nude posed in an art-historically confused studio setup that something just beneath the surface is amiss. Ethridge hints at the nature of this disturbance in the show’s press release, which takes a the form of a letter: “One of the reasons I’ve been so interested in this kind of displaced, broad scope approach is an effort to embrace the arbitrariness of the image and image making. For me serendipity and intention are both necessary. Another reason for the wild style is the dread of conclusiveness. The dread of finitude. This work is against death and finality.” But, at the last minute, he backpedals: “No, that’s too hyperbolic, let’s say it’s about working in the service of the image and getting my kicks too.” Of course, this is fitting: Ethridge’s images speak, but never unequivocally.

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Chris Wiley