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A Review: Kevin Salemme’s “Triptychs: Phantom of Light”

Daniel Donnelly ’20

Staff Writer

I hope you had an opportunity to see “Triptychs: Phantom of Light” by Kevin Salemme on display at the Rogers Center between January 15-April 7, 2019. The exhibit showcased many different photographs from exotic wonders to bizarre structures. Photos were taken from all over the world from Italy and France to Ireland and Iceland. Images captured buildings, waterfalls, and a black and white photo of carousel ponies forming a circle parading in an open meadow.

One particular image, Notch Train, that caught my eye was of the landscape of North Conway, New Hampshire. The photo was taken from a high location and the camera angle framing the mountains captured its rugged incline seeped in mist, giving the image an eerie mystique. His photo captures the mountains stretching out far and cutting into the sky.

Another amazing image, Ponyhenge, captures a group of abandoned and recycled carousel ponies encircled one behind another. The black and white image creates the illusion of horses chasing each other in a never ending cycle.  The photograph was taken in Lincoln, Massachusetts. The image brings up a lot of questions like what is the intended message? Why were they placed in the open field? Why in a circle?

Another photograph of interest is Gare de Lyon in Paris, France. This image is striking because the light is different from all the other photos. A golden hue permeates the entire photograph and guides viewers to its center point, framing the inside of the train station and tracks that appear to travel on a continuum.  This is a clever use of a lighting technique. It’s not evident whether it was an editing technique by the photographer or a camera angle capturing natural light. The camera angle captures the center showing both train tracks on each side as they stretch on endlessly.

One final photo is of an old rusted and abandoned train in Lincoln, New Hampshire. The train is photographed head on from the front creating an eerie feeling of long ago days. Taking the shot of just the train, with the view divided by three frames is intriguing. It leaves viewers wondering what is surrounding the train? When did it operate? Was it a passenger train or did it transport products? Is it near a town or out in the middle of nowhere? No hints are given by the image which is the beauty of the shot. It remains with you beckoning more questions than answers.

Salemme’s work is intriguing. He considers photography to be like a time machine due to its ability to capture a moment and preserve it in a still image into the future. With “Triptychs,” three moments are viewed concurrently to challenge our understanding of time and light. By utilizing light and different angles, Salemme provides a different perspective of an idea or place and he leverages light to trigger memories. This idea is really interesting and left me wondering if a light or dark shot reminded Salemme of a certain time or event in his life. Salamme describes his inspiration for the photographs he captures as, “Like a diary or a journal, trying to capture a moment and a place and how it feels to me. I find myself in places and I feel like I connect with those places in my own way. The way I see a place and the way it makes me feel, I try to capture in my artwork.” Salemme seems to imply with his work that time is aggressive and always pushing on but with photography, a moment can be captured forever.