30x is an anthology of the medium’s ambitions, from 19th-century daguerreotypes and the earliest images made by Henry Fox Talbot and Henry Frith, to canonic 20th-century images like one of Ruth Bernard’s woman-in-a-box pictures (a smart inclusion because, pictorially and ideologically, it’s a precedent for Han’s picture) and Andrés Kertész’s Paris Shadows, a shot taken from his apartment window in which children on the sidewalk below come alive more in their articulated shadows than in their corporeal selves. And along the way you see image-makers continuing to blow out the apparent definitions of their art. See Emmit Gowan’s close-up of his wife shot through a screen door. The screen reticulates her presence: she seems to be breaking up into identically sized platelets. Step back a few feet and her face goes into eclipse. Many of the pictures remind us of photography’s enchantment with how otherworldly shadows relate to our embodied selves. Lee Friedlander’s uncanny image of his wife Maria half-dressed in a hotel room is an essay on how we are creatures of light and shade and substance. One creature, a shady creature, appears in a mugshot from Stockton’s police files.
In Bruce Davidson’s 2 Women on Platform, Subway from 1980, city life looks like pure tedium and promised risk and adventure. Two women, one dressed in white, the other in red, stand on either side of the platform, dresses blowing in the wind, the scene backlit by sundown light. Below and beyond we see the streets of Queens streaming from the elevated platform. Which brings me back to where I started, in New York, where the day after my quarrel I got a call from Resika, who could hardly contain himself. He’d just seen Nares’s Street and had something to say: “It’s authentic!”