A Review of Yola Monakhov Stockton’s “Post-Photography” Series at Rick Wester Fine Art, on View September 12 – October 24, 2015

Yola Monakhov Stockton’s unique gelatin silver prints in Post-Photography at Rick Wester Fine Art are marked with an ethereal and ghost-like aesthetic that continue to haunt each time you return to the work. The artist’s untitled pieces were created via handmade pinhole cameras and sent through the U.S. Postal Service, as well as other parcel services. The exposures we see in the gallery are records of the camera’s journey through transit – beneath the ceilings of sorting facilities, inside delivery trucks, and along neighborhood deliverymen’s mailing routes.

Stockton’s black-and-white prints contain formal shapes that range among rectangles, triangles, squares, and circles. These objects float around in spaces that are somewhat identifiable, such as a post-room or a tree-lined block, while some exist in ephemeral white or gray netherworlds, filled with hand written scribbles, silhouetted shadows, stains, film negative exposures, and swimming lines that resemble seismograph readings.

Each exposure represents its own universe – a utopic, perhaps even purist, bubble – a world that extends beyond the physical coordinates of time and space. This effect is contrary to what is actually happening in the making of these objects – a subversive penetration into rooms and institutions that are off limits to the public. They are abstract documentations that break all rules and boundaries, and allow viewers access into operations and systems that are part of the everyday and mundane, yet regulate and maintain the quiet stability of our daily lives and routines.

In a way, Stockton is observing and accumulating information for no purpose but to create sublime works of art that blur the lines between public and private space. This ongoing project makes me think about the traditional photographic practice and the nature of photography – one that has been turned over on its head. Stockton is certainly involved in the post-processing of these photos, but happenstance and serendipity are the true authors of the works we see, which in no way takes away from the effervescent brilliance of these 14”x11” and 24”x20” dreamlike, X-radiation-esque skeletal treasures.

The involved procedure and concept of remote, migratory picture making is part of the artist’s larger vision that continues to evolve and grasp meanings and implications she herself is still uncovering. As a young artist who is only beginning to accept and appreciate the implications of engaging with the photographic practice and take ownership and agency in creating the things we see – contributing to the dialogue through visual language – I admire the trust and freedom Stockton displays in sending out each parcel she makes. Each work bears the markings and trajectories of a collection of happenings and memories as they get handled, moved, and passed-on in spaces that are located in the “between” – an unsure, vague, and diffuse state of existence I think we all find ourselves in at some point or another, and is another reason why I gravitate towards Stockton’s Post-Photography series.

-Nechama Winston

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