In every family, traditional portraits are hung up or carried around: cousins arrayed before a monument, parents holding their grandchildren, long-gone ancestors smiling from a black and white beyond. Though we cherish their aura, the faces and places remain static.
By contrast, Rachel Barrett composes images that could be candid or staged, but we often cannot guess which. Her portraits are sometimes not even of people. In projects as seemingly clinical as her NYC Newsstand Project, born of a desire to document the soon-to-be homogenized newsstands sprinkled across Manhattan, we find a loving portrait of an icon glowing in its snowflake-like singularity. In Bowery and Pell SW Corner, 2011, we see a shed with the battered face of a retired fighter, all swollen angles and bent supports. The sweet rust-red lacquer of Chrystie & Grand Streets, NW Corner, 2009 reaches out lovingly to grasp its green awninged neighbor in friendship. Even the shabbier newsstands stand proudly, as though their position and usefulness in this city affords them strength. […]
Click here to see more of Rachel Barrett’s “sweet and scarred” portraits of place.