Art Beat // Summer Sizzle

EAST HARRIET — Alec Soth is back at Weinstein Gallery, this time with four color photographs from a new series, “Siren,” making their Minneapolis debut.

 

The quartet from Soth is just part of an entertaining summer exhibition at the gallery that also includes work from photographers Robbert Mapplethorpe, Annie Leibovitz (a recent Niagara Falls image) and Minneapolis-based Justin Newhall. There are also deadpan paintings by Todd Norsten and minimalist prints from Robert Therrian and Ellsworth Kelly.

 

But nearly half the gallery space is given over to Vera Lutter, who fills it with a series of images of Venice, taken with a camera obscura and presented as negatives, so that it seems the city has passed through an x-ray machine. The gondolas, piers and crumbling buildings are its glowing bones, the water its soft, dark flesh.

 

Lutter’s technique presents the whole world flipped: left to right, positive to negative and, seemingly, night to day. It’s an underworld Venice, and a vacant one. (People move too fast to be captured by the very long exposures her process requires, so they don’t appear in the photos.)

 

But back to Soth, who has spoken in the past about trying to understand how he depicts women in his photographs, all the while producing some remarkable portraits. A new photograph calls up memories of a well-known Soth portrait — of a woman with dyed-red hair and a cross marked on her forehead, standing outside a New Orleans church on Ash Wednesday — except now the male gaze is in full effect.

 

Most compelling, though, was Soth’s portrait of an older teenager, her head resting on her hands and closed eyelids caked in black eye shadow. She still has a child’s blunt fingers, but the worried and ragged tips tell of the onrush of adulthood.