I recently visited photographer Amy Montali at her Providence, Rhode Island studio where we sat with each other discussing her art. She had purposefully arranged on a table between us a scale-model, or miniature version, of her upcoming solo exhibition, “Amy Montali:
Thief,” that will be on view from November 9 through December 8 at the Bannister Gallery at Rhode Island College. Using the scale-model as a tool, Montali was in the midst of making placement decisions among the included photographs, controlling sight lines in advance.
Montali described her photography approach as aligned mostly with ways in which dance and theater are made, explaining that her work shares with these art forms a sensibility for isolating gestures, developing new phrases, as the method for building content. She mentioned an affinity for “Samuel Beckett, for the mix and cross play of epic, mundane and absurd… also I want the viewer to be a little unsure of what they are looking at, in a satisfying way… like watching a Beckett play. (But mine! not his).”
Regarding her influences in creating this show, Montali made reference to Garry Winogrand several times, “specifically his question about whether a photograph can overcome the spectacle of its subject.” And Harry Callahan came up in conversation, “specifically [because of] questions [he raised] around figure/ground, the size of the figure.”