Yard Sale Photographs
The yard sale is a perfect platform for bizarre conjunctions of objects, perhaps the only stage upon which the Compte de Lautreamont’s famous “chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing machine and an umbrella” might occur of its own will. In turning his lens to the random constellations formed by rummaging and perusing, Adam Bartos has struck gold, with an idea so simple it seems odd nobody had thought of it before. His still lifes of “chance meetings” find compositional fodder in vacuum cleaners, flippers and board games, portrayed to suggest only the tiniest hint of formal properties. A pair of weathered skateboards is silhouetted against black asphalt littered with grass clippings, a close-up of the shimmering coral-colored interior of a mid-century suitcase is contrasted against a blue rhinestone and white linens; each image points to a lifestyle, a narrative of outgrown toys and discarded hobbies. The clean rendering and saturated pigmentation of Bartos’ prints prevents these cast-off objects from accruing nostalgia, however, and they are closer in feel to an anthropological project than a rumination on bygone playthings. Photographing at close range from an elevated vantage point, Bartos allows the viewer to connect the dots, supplying only the raw combinations of materials for our story-making. The book is introduced with a story by Raymond Carver.