At DC Moore, Duane Michals Puts Johnny Cash in his Place(s)

THE DAILY PIC: A master of series makes his Cash session go serial.


THE DAILY PIC: Duane Michals’s most important works are the photographic sequences he started turning out in the late 1960s, but a show at DC Moore Gallery in New York proves that we was also a fine single-shot portraitist. This photo of Johnny Cash, from around that same era, is more striking and complex than the other thousands that the singer sat for. That may because it is in fact a Michalsian sequence, but collapsed onto a single sheet. By using reflections, as he often did, Michals was able to capture several different moments and viewpoints at once. Where the standard photo implies that there’s nothing worth looking at in the spaces beyond its edges, or in the moments before or after it was shot, Michals uses reflections to point his camera in several directions at once, and to imply multiple instants in time. In today’s Daily Pic, we seem to get Cash waiting to be photographed, and Michals stalking his subject; we get Michals’ view into Cash’s private space, and Cash’s perspective on the world outside. We see the empty bed in the hotel room, as well as the barren plaza beyond. And we see the looming power of the camera composing the photographed world, as well as the sitter it subjugates. (Image courtesy DC Moore Gallery, NY)

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