Recommended: unseen : Jessica Lang at MOPA

punto. di vista | Jennifer DeCarlo

This month with recommended exhibitions in Little Italy’s galleries continuing, we take a step beyond the borders of our district to Balboa Park, where MOPA is featuring the work of Jessica Lang.

The title “unseen” is appropriate.

Lang’s work will be on display at MOPA. (Copywright Jessica Lange / Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, and rose Gallery, Santa Monica)

Celebrated for her work as an actress, Lang proves an equally powerful photographer. Images on view draw heavily from work done in Mexico, but also take us around the world to Ethiopia, Romania, Russia, Finland, Italy, France, and the United States.

Shot with high-speed black and white film, the full-framed shots are the gritty poetry of life. We see Lang’s work as an actress unfold into photography practice with an interesting choice not to reveal herself to her subjects. We know then that these unseen moments are waited for. Lang lacks any ability to control the drama playing out before her lens, so it is instinctive choice and intuitive recognition of these charged instants that drive the work.

Authenticity emerges when the subject is caught in its own space, and Lang invites us to disappear into the moment. In frame after frame, we sense the pause in fleeting instants: a young girl seems unsure of her capture as she holds a garden snake in distanced hands; a plainly-dressed woman in an elegant Russian Opera House is caught on a balcony with an upward glance – searching, she almost finds her target; a white-eyed wild man painted as a skeleton pauses before a passing procession; and the stories go on like this.

Through little slices of time these fragments, these frames open wide into unfolding narratives. Images come without tags, and so was the curatorial design of the show. These moments are for us, without distraction or judgment, and it is we who describe the undetermined, we who write the stories.

Through May 19, 2013
Museum of Photographic Arts
1649 El Prado

Jennifer DeCarlo is the owner/director of jdc Fine Art, a contemporary photography gallery in Little Italy. DeCarlo earned her MFA from UW-Madison and is active academically and professionally in her field as a panelist, folio reviewer, juror, and she writes for the international photography association, aipad. She can be reached at

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