ArtBeat: Dona Ann McAdams’ “Some Women” @ the Opalka Gallery

December 4th, 2009, 10:04 am by Greg

Dona Ann McAdams: Pro Choice Rally, New York City, 1994

Dona Ann McAdams: Pro Choice Rally, New York City, 1994


Documentary photographer Dona Ann McAdams’ exhibit “Some Women” opened at the Opalka Gallery in Albany on November 1, but since the local papers have abdicated pretty much all responsibility for reviewing local art, it’s gone practically unnoticed. This is a shame, if not something more, because McAdams is a tenacious soul, and her pictures have an acute and mordant mystery.

Widely known as the chief photographic witness of New York’s downtown performance scene in the 1980s (her work chronicled artists from John Cage to Karen Findley), McAdams has, for this exhibit, put that work aside in favor of an eclectic range of other projects, from AIDS activism and nuclear energy to Appalachian farm women and Roman nuns.

She’s a traditionalist, technically (working with a manual Leica and black and white film) and philosophically. There’s not a single staged tableau or rephotographed miniature landscape among these images, but rather instances of dignity, struggle and fantastic weirdness drawn from life itself.

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