The premise behind the Photographic Resource Center’s annual “Your Work Here” show is simple. PRC members are invited to submit one of their photographs to the exhibition, and it’s those photographs the show consists of. This year there are 63 on display.
That’s a lot. ‘Tis the season for cornucopias and groaning boards. With “Your Work Here 2022,” the cornucopia is visual, and it’s not boards that are groaning but the walls of the Fort Point Arts Community Gallery. The show runs through Dec. 18.
The viewing experience is a bit overwhelming, which is a compliment to the PRC members. Probably the best way to proceed is just to wander around and see what catches your eye.
A photograph shows a reproduction of the “Mona Lisa” on a lemon-curd-colored wall above a set of empty tables and chairs. The title of Yorgos Efthymiadis’s provides the explanation: “Mona Pizza.” Perhaps the pizzeria’s slogan is “A smile with every slice.”
A massive, mighty structure with three smokestacks looks North Shore familiar. So it is. The title of Mona Miri’s photograph is “Salem Power Plant.” Water fills the foreground of the picture, and that deliquescent element variously recurs throughout “Your Work Here”: on the beach (R. Lee Post’s amusing “Herbie, OM-ing to Stall Rising Tides”), in the tub (Dan McCormack’s “Lenoir R 05-30-21 -- 01 AB”), in a pool (Liz Albert and Shane VanOosterhout’s “What You Count on Happening . . . Probably Will”), offering support (Michael Corthell’s “Leaves on Water”), or refracting (Ann Prochilo’s “Red”).
Unexpected objects can stand out. Richard Frankosky’s “Bukowski Selectric Bouquet” wittily combines obsolescent technology (remember IBM Selectric typewriters?) with the still-life tradition and a nod to a certain hard-living literary cult figure. The oddly juxtaposed apple and bullet in Joe Greene’s “Homage to Papa Flash #1″ offer a different sort of tribute, to Harold “Doc” Edgerton. Stefanie Klavens continues her marvelous exploration of movie exhibition with “Projection Booth,” wherein a film reel is as deservedly front and center as a monarch’s throne.
Sometimes a photograph is eye-catching because it doesn’t look like a photograph. That’s the case with Joetta Maue’s “Tears & Stains.” It has the added advantage of being a candidate for most poetical title. The image has the delicacy and painterliness of a watercolor — and a very good one.
A photograph arrests time. Rot is the inexorability of time made visible. So there’s a fascinating tension in three very different visions of decay: Gary Duehr’s “Skull in Armchair” (definitely not an easy chair), Mitch Eckert’s “Still Life With 3 Plastic Peaches” (which, yes, despite the fruit being artificial are visibly decayed), and the peeling wallpaper of Joni Lohr’s nonetheless lambent and alluring “Open Doors.”
That’s just 14 of the 63 photographs. Who knows which ones will catch your eye. It might be worth a trip to the Seaport to find out. The PRC will host a reception at the gallery in honor of the show on Dec. 9, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
One of the photographers in “Your Work Here” is Jessica Burko, the PRC’s creative director. She has a show of her own at the Brookline Arts Center’s Beacon Street Gallery. “Fractured & Found” runs through Jan. 15.
The exhibition is a bit of a jumble, which is intentional. Burko has gathered up wooden drawers that were left out as trash. A dozen color photographs, 16 inches by 20 inches, document the drawers’ pre-rescued state.
Some of the drawers are just that, drawers: empty five-sided wooden rectangles. There is something very appealing about the sheer substantiality of their thing-ness — thing-ness, not solidity, since a drawer’s function is owing to its being an encased void.
You start to notice differences among the drawers: size, fanciness, degree of distress; whether they bear handles, knobs, or pulls. The most important difference is Burko’s doing. Some of them have black-and-white photographs, transferred with encaustic, at the bottom. The images are quite striking: self-portraits (rather off-puttingly Francis Bacon-ish), a foot here, a hand there, some fish, a pair of gaping mouths.
It’s the self-portraits that are most prominent, but the mouths may matter more. Anything in a frame — photograph, painting, print — is enclosed. Enclosure is a form of protection. The dimensionality emphasized by Burko’s putting the images at the bottom of the drawers reminds us that they’re not just enclosed but also confined. The mouths underscore that: teeth and tongue confined in mouth, mouth confined in face, face confined in drawer. Tug on a pull or knob or handle as much as you want, but there’s no getting out.
YOUR WORK HERE 2022
At Fort Point Arts Community Gallery, 300 Summer St., through Dec. 18. 617-975-0600, www.prcboston.org
JESSICA BURKO: FRACTURED & FOUND
At Brookline Arts Center Beacon Street Gallery, 1351 Beacon St., Brookline, through Jan. 15. 617-566-5715, www.brooklineartscenter.com/beacon
Mark Feeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.