Review: Hannah Whitaker plays deftly with experimental photography

Hannah Whitaker employs a variety of means to produce her large photographic prints -- multiple exposures, for instance, and shooting through cut-paper shapes -- but the how matters less than the memorable what. Her first L.A. solo show, at M+B, abounds in interesting complications, interruptions, interferences in the field.

Based in Brooklyn, Whitaker regards the straight photograph as a mere starting point, an image to be manipulated, an illusion to be subverted. She plays deftly with concealment and revelation, structure and chance, shooting landscapes and a female figure through opaque, cage-like screens. Dark bars turn each single, continuous image into a halting, splintered spread, introducing a filmic sense of duration and stop-motion rhythm.

In "Arctic Landscape (Pink Sky)," a snowy scene reads doubly as a faceted plane of stacked cubes. Illusion layers upon illusion and each fragment serves as an integral component of two diverse representational systems.

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Whitaker adopts mathematical schema, Gee's Bend quilt patterns and the forms of jazzy, hard-edge abstraction to add conceptual dimensionality to photographs, which are already conceptually complex by nature, at once indexes and interpretations, windows, mirrors and opaque objects.

There are a few facile dips here, but overall Whitaker's work makes a smart, sprightly contribution to the present era of experimentation and expansiveness in photography.

M+B, 612 N. Almont Drive, (310) 550-0050, through April 26. Closed Sunday and Monday.


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