Best Photographer - 2000
Jennifer Dorsey photographs straight. She doesn't make installations, or peel Polaroid transfers, or use light boxes. Those things are great, but when all's said and done, it's nice to look at a straight image, carefully chosen. A 1999 M.F.A. graduate from Washington University, Dorsey's most recent images are color prints mounted on boxes, so they project slightly from the wall without the interference of a border. They show interiors populated with institutional furniture or merchandise for sale. They are deadpan. They show us rows of plastic containers for sale at Target, or a forlorn bank of cabinets at a clinic, or a chorus of swivel chairs in some unidentified laboratory. At first glance, they look like the cool, conceptual works by German photographers Andreas Gursky or Candida Hofer. But Dorsey thinks they owe more to American documentarians like Walker Evans or Robert Frank. And these photographs document more than you would expect. We spend most of our time in ordinary places like these, as void of warmth as they are functional. Why, then, are the images so appealing? That's the real achievement of these works. Dorsey says her most successful pictures "walk the edge between attractive and disappointing." She nails it every time. Her works this year were the best we saw.