Tom Sandberg

There is a majestic silence—palpable to the point of monumental—in this work. Elegant and ancient as the subject of his evocative portrait of John Cage (1985/94), this silence never takes form, but affects what is around it, shaping the atmosphere. The most obvious fact of Sandberg’s photography—that it has developed over the past thirty-five years in an adamantly black-and-white nondigital medium—is both its forte and its fallacy. This is anything but black or white; it is a symphony of hues and tonalities in which any words suggesting “gray” or “off-white” are as useless as describing a sunset to a rock. This is the kind of impression you might get if you’d been watching crummy worn versions of old movies on TV your whole life, and suddenly saw a newly re-mastered print in the cinema. And boy, is this cinematic— and all the more disturbing for being a silent film—starkness as symbolism shrouding a hermetic allegory, stills like gestures, some narrative always lurking outside the frame.

Aperture
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