“It is no accident that Eugène Atget’s photographs have been likened to those of a crime scene,” wrote Walter Benjamin. Just such a combination of straight forward depiction and enigmatic narrativity can be seen in Bryan Florentin’s photographs in “Inscrutable Evidence,” at Kirk Hopper Fine Art. The exhibition includes 31 digital pigment prints, most displayed on their own but a few combined with other accessories such as a light stand or an umbrella. Most of the images depict items that could be studied after the fact, in a lab, by an analyst who doesn’t know what happened but wants to find out. The open-endedness of the many possible narrative explanations for these objects is what makes them inscrutable, and the scrupulous way they are handled and documented preserves their value as evidence.
Many of the photographs show objects (prophylactics, baggies, rubber gloves, fluids spilled on pavement) that might be of concern to a crime-scene investigation, whereas others (satellite photos, sheets of paper) might have more to do with spycraft. Whether handled by CSI or CIA, the power of all such things relies on the potential of a single, mundane, otherwise overlooked object to serve as the clue that leads an investigating viewer to uncover the truth of what actually happened.
Image: Bryan Florentin, Inscrutable Evidence, installation view (Courtesy of Kirk Hopper Gallery)