Commodities, Traders: Ron Jude and Milton Rogovin April 8 – May 26, 2017 Gallery Luisotti, Santa Monica, CA

Gallery Luisotti is pleased to announce Commodities, Traders, a two-person
exhibition of photographs by Ron Jude and Milton Rogovin. Jude’s series of
color photographs Executive Model, which depicts closely cropped views of
men’s backs in formal business attire in several financial districts, is
paired with Rogovin’s highly specific black and white photographs of coal
miners and their families from around the world. For this unlikely
presentation of artists from different generations, Rogovin’s photographs
will be arranged around the main part of the gallery primarily by region and
Jude’s photographs will be placed in a borderline claustrophobic line along
the back wall of the gallery behind the front desk. This spatial arrangement
heightens the readings of the individuals on view—visible and engaged as
opposed to turned away and mysterious. The exhibition comes at a turbulent
and unpredictable time in American life when the workers of shrinking
industries are being made questionable promises by the president while
financial markets are performing at record highs.
Jude’s Executive Model portrays its subjects in an opaque manner. This
opacity corresponds to the vagaries of high level financial trading to those
outside the world of finance. Jude made the work by following businessmen,
usually unnoticed, around Wall Street and its correlates around the country.
The men loom large in the frame, matching the partial views of skyscrapers
around them. Jude’s project echoes Vito Acconci’s Following Piece (1969),
and in the repetition of the business suit, typologies by the Bechers. There
is a narrow range of individuality that these men express, usually marked by
the presence or absence of pinstripes, slightly different haircuts, and
shades of fabric between dark navy and black. As unidentifiable as these men
are, the viewer has little idea as to what they actually do. The
unaccountability takes on an eerie dimension.
The differences between the two projects are numerous, in form and content,
but those differences belie the deep connections between the lives of coal
miners and those who work in the financial sector. Curiously, despite the
contemporary feel of Jude’s work, it was made in the early 1990s, shortly
after Rogovin had concluded photographing miners and other workers in the
late 1980s. This contiguity of timing speaks to a kind of break or passing
between types of economies, from a market of industrial products to a market
of information or even financial products themselves. 1980 marked the year of
peak coal industry employment in the United States and the beginning of
accelerated neo-liberalization under President Ronald Reagan. While the
government is often seen as antagonizing the coal industry, any examination
of the matter makes it clear that coal is simply being outperformed and
undercut by natural gas on the commodities market. Despite all appearances
and the changes in the industries shown, Rogovin’s miners are linked by the
market to Jude’s anonymous moneymen.
The exhibition will open on April 8 and will run through May 26, 2017. For more information about the exhibition or artists, please call (310) 453-0043.

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