Kevin Francis – Anasazi Exhibit Review

Anasazi Exhibit Review

by Kevin Francis

Don’t let the photograph in the window display showing an unexciting row of black handprints on white rock that could be straight off the set of The River Wild keep you from venturing inside. Don Kirby’s outstanding black and white photographs of Anasazi ruins (200 BC and 1300 AD) from the four corners region delight in the myriad countenances of these rock faces, resembling everything from thick strips of bacon to cake frosting, from shoreline surf to oil slicks. Although certain rock formations are marked with straight lines, it’s the sweeping and folding curves that dominate these spaces. Dramatically vivid in this world are the linear and angular human impositions—the brick shelters perched in shallow caverns on the sides of cliffs and, especially, the hard edge of the camera frame. One can’t ignore the arbitrary given of the rectangular frame in these photographs. These photographs seem to comment on several things—the strangeness of people and their houses on these rock shelves, the human luxury of dwelling in easily seen (if not reached) structures ever since this time, and the graphic evolution of the line as its hard-edged definition has increased. You might ponder all these things while looking at Kirby’s photographs; you might just marvel.