On exhibit at the Second Avenue Firehouse Gallery is a series of black and white site-specific photographs by Dan Lachacz. The body of work, collectively titled You Are Here (Series 4), finds the artist using the exhibition space as his subject matter, as he alters the space until it no longer appears familiar. The work is similar to site specific installations in which the artist creates a new body of work specifically for designated exhibition space. The exhibition is the fourth of its kind with Lachacz previously exhibiting his site-specific photography at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, Islip Art Museum, and Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Company.
Each composition consists of multiple contrasting details that draw the viewer in as the artist juxtaposes light with dark, color with shadow, space with closure. The distorted images of unreal qualities and obscure angles create a sense of intimacy with viewer, igniting his or her desire to explore the composition and its many stimulating components. With his photographs, Lachacz presents the exhibition space from unconventional angles, perspectives, and other unique points of view. By distorting the perspective in which the venue is normally presented, he forces the viewer to re-evaluate the space he or she occupies, making the viewer conscious of his or her surroundings.
The symmetrically composed Site-Specific Photograph #20 depicts the Second Avenue Firehouse Gallery from the back wall at ground level. The horizon line cuts the picture in half with the lower half depicting the glimmering hardwood floor which reflects the light that enters the space from both sides of the work. The vanishing point of the photograph can be found in the center of the composition, underneath the wooden bench found in the background. The paneled walls of the gallery are left vacant and the tracking lighting has been turned off. Two pedestals can be found on either side of the composition in different corners of the room with a half-sized desk cabinet found in front of the one on the left. Two empty chairs sitting opposite on another in the mid-ground, and behind them, on the left-hand side, is another desk cabinet, while a folding table sits behind the one on the right; further enhancing the overall equilibrium of the piece. Within the work, the viewer will be able to find several objects Lachacz uses for the subject of his other photographs.
The chair on the right-hand side of the previous image becomes a primary feature in Site-Specific Photograph #16. Situated between the wall and the back of the chair, Lachacz snaps his picture. The viewer is instantly aware of the geometric shapes of the composition, such as the right triangle formed by the wall, chair, and bottom edge of the picture. Here the artist juxtaposes clarity with the obscure, as seen in sharpness of the floorboards against the blurred wall panels.
Similarly, Site-Specific Photograph #1 offers a unique viewpoint of the exhibition space. Here the viewer finds the upper section of the distorted ventilation shaft composed against the highly focused wall-based air vent. This portion of the gallery would commonly go overlooked by the typical art lover whose attention would be solely on the artwork that hangs on the gallery walls.
This section of the gallery is found in another of Lachacz’s photographs, Site-Specific Photograph #22. Here the artist offers his view a truly distinct point of view that the viewer would not have otherwise seen on his or her own. The artist’s camera is situated slanted on the top of the ventilation shaft so the room as a whole is turned on a 45-degree angle. The barrel of the filter unit recedes into space where the viewer finds one of the rack lighting units. Through these photographs, Lachacz offers the viewer a unique perspective of the exhibition space, one he or she would not have been privy to otherwise.
The ceiling of the Second Avenue Firehouse Gallery is the focus of two of Lacahcz’s photographs. One, Site Specific Photograph #3 depicts one of the gallery’s two tracking lighting units, although only two track lights can be found on opposite sides of the image. The composition is noted for its vertical and horizontal lines as the lighting track runs across the visual plane, dividing the top third of the picture from the lower two-thirds.
Perplexed by the highest parameters of the gallery, another work by Lachacz, Site-Specific Photograph #18, presents the ceiling from a dizzying angular view. Sunlight shines off the track lights, reflecting onto the ceiling. By using the ceiling as the subject for these works, Lachacz challenges the viewer to fully be aware of their surroundings, taking in scenery he or she may have otherwise overlooked.
In many of his pictures, the imperfects of the exhibition space are the subjects. Site Specific Photograph #11, depicts the base of the gallery’s ceiling fan. The finely polished surface is tarnished with smeared paint that has long since dried, as a single electrical wire loops out between the base of the fan and ceiling. The surface around the fixture is roughly spackled and painted when compared to the remaining sections of ceiling found within the image.
Site-Specific Photograph #6, offers almost no point of reference to the exhibition on it’s own. Without the aid of the other photographs in the exhibition, or without firsthand knowledge of the Second Avenue Firehouse Gallery, it would be almost impossible for the viewer to pinpoint the setting of this picture, which depicts a stained section between what can either be wall or ceiling panels.
Every little detail of the space is worthy of the artist’s attention. The subject of Site-Specific Photograph #4 appears to be the long nail that is situated in a pilaster that frames an adjacent window. The ornate architectural element is situated just to the right of the composition with the window blind occupying the lower left-hand corner. Again, the various geometrical shaped formed by the architectural elements and objects take prominence over the scene. The concentric circles found within the squared capital of the pilaster forms a nice juxtaposition as the long, narrow, blackened nail offers a compelling contrast against the various whites and grays found within the picture.
Likewise, Site-Specific Photograph #5, features an often-overlooked aspect in many galleries, the light switch. Three-quarters of the picture plane consist of a close up of two wall panels. The horizontal lines are greeted by the darkened light-switch which spots the words “vari.” As indicated by the knob, and the track lighting from other images, the switch is turned to the off position. On the left-hand side of the object, one finds a dried-up pool of white paint, a detail so minute, it would have gone overlooked by the average person, if not designated by the artist. By highlighting the insignificantly overlooked aspects of the gallery, Lachacz turns the attention of the viewer not only to his photographs, but the exhibition space as he challenges his audience to be aware of his or her surroundings.
Lachacz is an active member of the Patchogue Arts Council and is a founding member of the Patchogue Arts Council’s Photographers Group. He is the Assistant Director of New York Contemporary Artists Symposium (NYCAS) and Co-President of Criterion Contemporary. He is a 2010 alumnus of the New York Foundation for the Arts’ (NYFA) MARK program and has had his artwork exhibited nationally and internationally by the East End Arts Council, Phoenix Gallery, Patchogue Arts Gallery, Islip Art Museum, Center for Visual Arts, and the Museum of Satu Mare in Romania.
You Are Here (Series 4) is on display at the Second Avenue Firehouse Gallery in Bay Shore, NY from May 18 – June 20, 2015 with a reception held on Saturday, June 19, from 7 – 9 PM.