The Old Men Across the Sea
The image in question, "Budapest 1," was taken by Katherine Workinger, one of three artists in a group show titled Samples at Blackbird Buvette. (The other works come in the form of cartoonish pen-and-watercolor pieces by Vincent Le and paper-cutout-on-canvas mosaics by Lindsey Holmes.)
Workinger moved to Albuquerque in October 2011, coming off four years of shooting as a freelance photographer in her native Minneapolis. Before relocating for a film production gig, she spent a summer traveling Europe, which is where she captured four of the five roughly 14-by-20-inch matte paper prints that hang in Samples.
The portraits—all of elderly people, two in black-and-white—demonstrate a clear gift for capturing the facial expressions of strangers in a way that’s meditative and intimate.
"I found more of a common theme in elderly people," Workinger says about assembling the series from the myriad images she took while traveling. "They seemed more relaxed and not worried about how they looked, so it seemed more genuine."
But perhaps the most striking print in the set is an image she captured of one of those Hungarian men. He lounges in a chair at a Turkish-style bathhouse. A light blue swimming pool in the background contrasts beautifully against a regal, golden palace. His stare is so intense that it seems to penetrate the camera, driving right through to the viewer in a manner that is raw and unsettling. What's even creepier is that the guy looks like a spray-tanned doppelgänger for Chicago's most recent Mayor Daley.
Workinger's photos have crisp focus, a quiet intrigue and an exceptional use of tonal contrast and color balance. While the group show only provides a glimpse into her photographic talents, it also highlights an up-and-coming artist who deserves attention (here's looking at you, gallerists).