review

Patrick Taberna Exhibition
Au fil des jours

Chronogram - May, 2006
excerpt from The New Regionalism by Beth E. Wilson

…The presentation of the world, on the other hand, is the gist of what photographer Patrick Taberna's work is all about. Or rather, the world as it presents itself to him, as he passes through from one place to another. Prints first published in Taberna's book Au fil des jours (roughly translated, A String of Days) will be on view at his first American exhibition at Galerie BMG in Woodstock, starting May 12.

It may seem odd to feature a French photographer in a column otherwise concerned with promoting the New Regionalism, but it's precisely the freedom of movement and openness to expressive possibility embodied in Taberna's work that beats at the heart of this notion. The fact that such an international figure can make his American debut here, rather than at one of the high-end galleries in New York, helps to make the point indelibly.

Taberna uses photography to frame interesting moments, and ultimately implicit, condensed stories, from people, places, and things that he encounters in his travels. As he puts it, "I do not want to be a photographer who travels, but rather a traveler who makes photos." Frustrated in his desire to be a writer, he turned to photography to express himself, and has quite successfully found his voice through his pictures. Shot on film in medium format (using an old Russian plastic camera), he scans the negatives and has the images printed digitally, using pigmented inks on high quality papers, often using lush color, idiosyncratic cropping, and moody, atmospheric lighting to condense the scene before him into the visual equivalent of a well-crafted short story.

Passing from one day into the next, from one place to another, Taberna seems to be searching for whatever provisional bits of meaning he can find-knowing that final answers of any sort are improbable at best, and not to be trusted in any event. When asked by an interviewer, "Have you gotten from photography what you hoped you would?" he responded, "I do not think I have reached anywhere in photography. If one day I do, I would, maybe, have to do something else. I often question my work and I constantly look for something I cannot grasp onto. It is this quest that keeps me going."

Knowing where we have come from is not the same as knowing where we will end up. This idea of the New Regionalism is not intended as a prescriptive formula for artworld, but rather a descriptive analysis of what has already come to pass, a way to recognize the current state of affairs. I look forward to the continuously unfolding story of art and culture here in the Mid-Hudson Valley-the traces of which you can follow here in Chronogram on a monthly basis-because it is a story without a definitive ending, an endless array of possibilities that continue to emerge and flourish in places I could scarcely have predicted just a year ago. Like Taberna, I'm in it for the quest.