Michael Wolf | Street View | CONTACT Feature Exhibition
Michael Wolf | Street View*
350 Dundas Street West, Toronto
May 1-31, 2021
*Presented as a Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival Feature Exhibition
Bau-Xi Photo is pleased to present Street View, an exhibition of works from Michael Wolf’s Street View series, including Paris Street View, Manhattan Street View, Street View Portraits, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. Through these bodies of work, Michael Wolf redefined street photography.
Architecturally, Paris exists in a vacuum. The city’s historic core sits relatively unchanged since Haussmannization, and as a result, leaves little room for contemporary photographic reinterpretation. Moreover, photographers such as Atget, Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau and Ronis have left little space for further exploration.
In the mid to late 2000s, Michael Wolf and his wife relocated to Paris from Hong Kong. This move signalled a massive shift in Wolf’s work as it was not only his home for over a decade, but the site to some of his most prolific series.
Upon their relocation, Wolf used Google Street View to navigate his new home. At the time, Google Street View was infantile—launched in 2007—and had introduced its organic navigation and full screen capabilities in 2009. Wolf recognized this new technology as a new digital medium.
Mounting his camera on a tripod positioned directly in front of his LCD screen, Wolf rephotographed Google’s readymade. Rephotography is not a new concept. Wolf’s Street View series most notably follows Sherrie Levine’s, After Walker Evans. Both Levine and Wolf photograph their readymades, place them in a new context, and present them in a different form.
Wolf’s body of work also discusses surveillance and a person’s right to privacy. Paris Street View was created during the French government’s attempt to regulate street photography. This contrasts with France's 2007 decision to triple the number of video surveillance cameras by 2009, and Google’s unauthorized photographic mapping system.
After Paris Street View, Wolf revisited this concept several times, producing A Series of Unfortunate Events, Street View Interface, Manhattan Street View, Fuck You, and Street View Portraits. In 2011, A Series of Unfortunate Events was awarded Honourable Mention at the World Press Photo for Contemporary Issues—a controversial decision that re-defined photojournalism.
Bau-Xi Photo’s exhibition Street View is a culmination of works from Paris Street View, Manhattan Street View, Street View Portraits, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. This curated selection of photographs includes works that are both self referential—recalling tropes from Wolf’s Architecture of Density, Transparent City, and Tokyo Compression—and externally referential, referencing photographs by Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Michael Wolf’s Street View series have most notably been exhibited in Paris, Hong Kong, and Amsterdam. Paris Street View, Manhattan Street View, and A Series of Unfortunate Events have not been exhibited in Canada.