Best Of 2009

Best Gallery Exhibition: Here and There

This small gem of a group photography exhibition, curated by former St. Louisan Justin Visnesky, depicted the elegant near-nothingness that constitutes our deeper relationship to familiar places and things. A reflection on a life divided between two places — St. Louis and elsewhere — the show included work by Greg Barth, Elizabeth Fleming, Jacob Koestler, Laura McAllister, Ed Panar and Michael Worful (and Visnesky himself). How are familiarity and difference quantified? In almost intangible details: midday sun on a white wall, a patch of light in a wooded clearing, a neon desk lamp wanly illuminating a poster of tropical paradise tacked up in a makeshift office. Places, in these images, seem to have a subtle life of their own, observable only incidentally as our gaze moves elsewhere. Here and There was chosen by Sina Najafi, cofounder and editor-in-chief of Cabinet magazine, for a critique through the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis' Emerson Visiting Critics and Curators series. The pairing seemed all too apt — a magazine dedicated to life's curious minutiae finding a kindred spirit in a show of the modest elements of the private life. The work served to retrain one's way of observing the world, privileging the peculiarly slow elliptical over the conventional lot of bold things that typically catch one's eye.

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