Sue Scott Gallery

Paola Ferrario, "Imprevisti/Unforeseen"

T. J. Carlin
Time Out New York, December 2009

Paola Ferrario's images, casually mounted onto the wall, dissolve the formality of the photograph as an object through a combination of factors: their frameless presentation; their emphasis on overlooked moments; and their seemingly disposable nature, not unlike the graffiti they sometimes depict.  Their content—which also includes close-cropped snaps of tattooed body parts and cracks in the sidewalk—and mainly constitutes fragments of outdoor street life, conjures the wandering, moving eye of the flaneur, Baudelaire's term for the wanderer of the 19th-century Paris.  

Ferrario's update of urban peregrination takes place in the U.S. and her native Italy, through blink and you might miss the cultural references, as her images never afford wide views.  Those familiar with the gentle suburbia that makes up a majority of the European landscape will recognize the characteristic architecture in such pieces as Bird and Gate, or the small every-town train station in Untitled Landscape 1.  On the other hand Asphalt I, with its grouping of 12 close-ups of the titular subject, offers no clues to its context.

There are moments of relaxed humor—Bart Simpson and Confused Man pairs a tag of the former with a wanted poster of a quizzical Italian—delivered sotto voce.  A video in the back, Gol di Grosso/Grosso's Goal, captures a few minutes in time during a typical European moment—a view of the highway from the artist's car as she's listening to a radio broadcast of Italy's World Cup win.  The entire exhibition is a meditation on slow looking, with the local color almost an afterthought—which is refreshing in a time when global agendas are pushed so aggressively.