Barbieri’s exhibition at Yancey Richardson Gallery showcased a series of photographs, taken from a helicopter, which find vacationers along the coastline of the Adriatic Sea in all states of play; reposing on floating lounge chairs, leading children in floaties, even engaging in what seems to be some form of water aerobics.
And it’s the series’ honest, candid nature that lent Adriatic Sea its charm and its whimsy. Barbieri, renowned for his innovations with tilt-shift lens photography, renders the typical Adriatic Sea vacation photo into a surreal, almost cartoonish visual experience; the blue of the waters is saturated to candy store extremes, and the figures warped into caricatures of themselves, or even just silhouettes filled with white. It’s this combination of the real – the vacationers engaged in the everyday, and the surreal – the digital manipulation of the photos, that rendered Adriatic Sea a fascinating exhibition; the ridiculousness of the everyday is emphasized, as is the ordinariness of the dreamlike.
The viewer sees how the run-of-the-mill rendition of water aerobics, or even just dance, suddenly seems surreal, beautiful, alien; and how the rendering of the tourists into cartoonish or even outlines suddenly emphasizes the ubiquity of an experience as simple as going to a beach. The man in the green trunks could be your father, the woman in the yellow bathing suit, your wife. Thus Barbieri gives us the gift of projection. It’s a beautiful dance in a virtual paradise, and you’re invited – all you have to do is squint hard enough.
Adriatic Sea (Staged) Dancing People was on view until March 19th, 2016, at Yancey Richardson Gallery.