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Informality and improvisation in photo exhibit at Little Big Man Gallery

Informality and improvisation in photo exhibit at Little Big Man Gallery
This untitled photograph by Asger Carlsen is at Little Big Man Gallery. (Saswat Pattanayak / Courtesy Little Big Man Gallery)

Anyone needing a reminder that photography in the 21st century is not a monolithic medium, but conceptually and practically more of an immense gossamer umbrella, should pay a visit to the Little Big Man Gallery.

There are few common denominators among the 22 artists represented in the current group show except their use of lens-based imagery of some sort, either made or scavenged.

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The show's title, "a lie about a lie; a truth about The truth," comes from a film, which is screening in the gallery, that features many of the same photographers seen here, who come from the U.S., U.K., Japan, Germany, India, Denmark, Thailand, Canada, South Korea and Sweden.

By default, photography registers a simultaneous nearness to and distance from truth, and more of the artists here assume that condition than overtly address it.

Asger Carlsen meets it head-on in his seamless montage of mismatched body parts, a mesmerizing contrivance descended from Hans Bellmer's mutant dolls. In a poignant group of small prints, Fumiko Imano poses with her double, a twin she granted herself by photographic means when loneliness prevailed.

Informality and improvisation drive nearly all the work, whether street portraits from Thailand, shop-window still lifes shot in London by iPhone, a mosaic of tiny prints of a couple having sex or a mural-size montage of Internet-culled figures — from anime to Arafat — making the V-sign.

Much here feels obscure and inconsequential, but the whole hums with an appealing raw energy, a defiance of preciousness that does feel true to the state of photography today.

Little Big Man Gallery, 1427 E. 4th St., Unit 2, (917) 361-5039, through Aug. 31. Closed Sunday. Open Thursday through Saturday and by appointment Monday through Wednesday. www.littlebigmangallery.com

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