20 Curators/20 Photographers
Kevin Moore/Jehsong Baak
Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich
Girl and Helicopter, 1990
Courtesy the artist
In an era dominated by process-based conceptual photography, often abstract and presented as large-scale color prints, it can be startling to encounter a simple series of black-and-white gelatin silver prints, depicting real human struggle and observation, and to realize the impact these still can have. Jehsong Baak, a Korean-American artist now living in Paris, works in a traditional modernist photographic style, the grain and inky darkness of his images recalling Robert Frank's melancholy photographs, or latently violent work by Japanese photographers, such as Daido Moriyama. In his series L’Eternel est grand, a shadowy remembrance of his young adulthood in New York, Baak searches his past through the fragmentary remnants of photographs made at that time. The incompleteness and impossibility of this search is made evident in a vocabulary of photographic glimpses, of places and faces only fleetingly captured--or lost despite double, triple, multiple takes of a single subject--and often rephotographed pinned to the wall or fresh out of the fixer, caught a second time, traces of experience held fast, for the artist's continued scrutiny. Lingering within these images is but a promise of revelation. Photography, like experience, only suggests meaning. We finish the process.