20 / 20 VISION, Published by Sturm & Drang


"How might a photographer committed, in his own words, to 'decidedly unmediated descriptions of real world phenomena,' and to 'making work in and of the world,' register the abstraction of the current urban landscape? If one historical task of photography was to register the physical being, and being-together, of things in space, how might it register a contemporary space that has stopped making sense?

In Objects and Actions of Consequence (2015), Mark McKnight pictures the accumulating scars of an aging American urbanism, in which contemporary economic austerity has resulted in a surreal piling-up of provisional fixes and removals. He pictures broken street lamps, glue left behind when a sign is removed, and lathing scratched away in search of windows, revealing dead ends. He discovers in these artifacts a sort of demotic abstraction. These gestures are visible to the eye but were not intended for view.

The series Removal, for example, documents a worker’s splodges of adhesive to a brick wall. Through the photographer’s lens, these marks—dots, lines, and commas—appear diagrammatic or paralinguistic while also referring to certain threads of modernist painting (itself concerned with mapping out a disrupted city-space). In Separation, McKnight attends to a poorly-resolved corner where freeway overpass meets sidewalk meets curb; the sutures of this space have come loose, and cracks already traverse the hastily mixed new pavement.

The impenetrability of McKnight’s compositions is heightened by the full use of his medium from framing through printing, rendering these pictures spatially ambiguous and flat. The abstraction of urban space becomes the abstraction of pictures.

— grupa o.k. (Julian Myers and Joanna Szupinska)"

Catalog available for purchase: Sturm & Drang