A Response to Post-Photography, Yola Monakhov Stockton’s Series at Rick Wester Fine Art

Sasha Bush

Yola Monakhov Stockton was trained as a photojournalist early in her career. Even as she’s moved onto abstract concepts, she has continued to use this discipline’s framework. Keeping this in mind, her description appears especially curious as she applies it thematically and stylistically to a new series entitled Post-Photography.

Data relating to Monakhov Stockton’s personal and professional life are enlisted as specific examples that have influenced her work. She confines herself to a discipline that prizes specificity and accuracy as the ultimate means by which to communicate with an audience, possibly to excess. Highlights include the physical and conceptual boundaries of new motherhood and academia. The camera itself as an object accompanied by its etymology are also explained as a thematic limit within the images.

Within her photographs, Monakhov Stockton has seemingly abandoned the framework she proposes in her statement of accurate definitions and careful historical context. In sending her homemade cameras through the post office, she has given up some control. Imprinted onto the photograph, this choice reveals itself in the dynamic energy and movement that disrupts the formal aesthetics of geometrical forms. I wonder about the pinholes as they were turned upside down in transit. I imagine her surprise, similar to mine last Friday, after seeing these prints for the first time. Reproduced in their original form as silver gelatin prints they retain their uniqueness. This leads me to consider the tactile and sensory nature of the image making process associated with traditional photographic methods.

A description provides a useful understanding for why the geometrical shapes along the focal plane appear to be off kilter. Even for someone who understands the skills involved. This need for a clear understanding applies to my own work as well. My photographs might not communicate the tactile and sensory joy of the darkroom techniques I invest in them. But Monakhov Stockton’s images do powerfully and clearly.

I’m left wondering why Monakhov Stockton seems to be fitting her newly expressed abstraction into the confines of a photojournalistic critique. My response to her photographs relies not on the facts she outlines but on the overall conceptual leaps that she has taken. After all, specificity is not given to the photographs that remain untitled with no geographical information regarding their locations. This tension between two disparate disciplines might suggest her ambivalence towards both. Regardless of her decision, I respect her efforts. However, I especially admire Monakhov Stockton’s willingness to be surprised and wish she would apply the same risks in interpreting her own work.

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