Ron Diorio: Better Days & Come Play With Me, 2015

Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art at Site 109, 109 Norfolk Street, New York, NY, 10002  

1 April - 26 April 2015

Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art is pleased to present Ron Diorio: Better Days & Come Play With Me. This is the gallery’s third solo exhibition of Diorio’s photography and the second installment of Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art’s exhibition series at Site 109 in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Better Days is a series of twenty-three photographs taken over a ten-year period in an array of locations including New York City, London and Delhi. Diorio photographs with a cell-phone camera. However, unlike the ubiquitous cell-phone pictures that we’ve all become accustomed to, Diorio is working with one of the earliest model phones that featured a camera. Whereas most cell-phone cameras today take pictures with 8.0 (or more) pixels of information, Diorio uses a camera that only records 0.3 pixels, and then information is redacted from the photographs, reducing them to impressionistic, almost painterly, glimpses of everyday life. His photographs, like memories, are somewhat sentimental and grudgingly familiar. The images offer a chance to re-imagine the types of diverse scenes that we absorb but do not see.

Writing some 20 years ago in Shark-Infested Waters, about a new generation of Young British Artists, the British art critic, Sarah Kent, noted that: “Art making has become less to do with the production of objects and more to do with employing that process to grapple with ideas and issues that are important. This does not mean that art has become merely a repository for existing beliefs, the illustration of ideas. On the contrary, artists are frequently unaware of the issues that concern them until they have emerged in physical form.” In similar fashion, the initial approach to Diorio’s photographs is frequently through a conversation about his process, but that discussion ultimately reveals his view of the human condition. “The photograph trades in lies,” he says, but there is a fundamental truthfulness within the pictures.”

The photo series Come Play With Me is inspired by a paper published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior on “Why Humans Have Sex.” The paper details a research project in which participants were asked to indicate which items in a list of 238 ‘reasons’ led them to have sex. Diorio posted personal ads on Craigslist using selected reasons to have sex from the study as the headline or subject. Diorio went on to work with the images sent in response to these ads to form the basis of the series. Diorio explains that the particulars of creating these sourced images are the same as those of his lens-based work. “I try to find the part or moment in a picture that interests me. Through digital editing, I work on eliminating everything extraneous in order to convey something universal.” Subfactors, the experimental film produced along with the series and selected for a 2013 show at The Kinsey Institute, is also on display in the exhibition.

The pictures from the Come Play With Me series deal with both societal and photographic issues in a new way for Diorio. The images address some of the ways we communicate with one another these days. The mating rituals of the “selfie” generation make use of photography in ways that previous generations rarely dealt with before. At the same time, these pictures remind us of the inherent voyeuristic nature of photography, proving that, as Roberta Smith once commented, “the act of looking is irresistible, invasive and voracious.”

Ron Diorio is a New York-based photographer and video artist. Collections with holdings of Diorio’s work include the Getty Museum, the Canadian Centre for Architecture and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. He has published three volumes of photography with Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art, Comin’ Around Again (2010) and Empire City (2011). He is a native New Yorker and lives with his wife and two children in northern Manhattan.

PHH