Roe Ethridge is a master of the quirky, genre-blurring photograph, drawing no distinction between the artistic and the commercial, or between the digitally manipulated and the untouched image. Much of the time, when looking at Ethridge’s work, it’s difficult to tell which is which.
A tight close-up of a surfboard in Surface captures a textured blue field, printed with an eponymous logo, and sprinkled with a few decaying autumn leaves. A paradigm of the artist’s methods, it uses form and language to make witty, self-reflexive reference to the flattening effect of the lens, as well as the large-format camera’s capacity for picturing the materiality of objects.
Elsewhere, Double Ramen features a diptych of duplicate blown-up images of uncooked noodles, which seems slightly uncanny, like Frederick Sommer’s paired images of the Arizona desert. It hangs next to Untitled (Alexis Bittar), a shot of a model somewhat past her prime. Wearing a Bittar necklace and rings, she seems equally strange in affect, all the more so since the photo is an outtake from an actual ad for the hipster jeweler. The juxtaposition is baffling, until you notice that her dry, wavy hair resembles the ramen, and that her demeanor shares a certain brittleness with the foodstuff. Such slyly cryptic affinities suggest an artist’s sensibility knowingly masquerading as an editorial eye.—Joseph R. Wolin