In art, there is a point where romanticism and magic realism intersect. In photography, that point, or place, is southern Louisiana and adjoining regions. It's a legacy that was epitomized by legendary New Orleans photographer Clarence John Laughlin, a self-proclaimed "extreme romantic" who became America's first surrealist photographer in the 1930s. He died in 1985, but his legacy lives on today in an array of Louisiana photographers including Josephine Sacabo, and extends slightly west to Beaumont, Texas, where Keith Carter has long pursued his dreamily localized form of magic realism. Both employ a hybrid of digital techniques and archaic processes and both are featured in shows at A Gallery for Fine Photography. Sacabo's photogravure expo, like her recent book, is titled Nocturnes, but there also are some exciting new images where her baroque feminine mysticism takes a taut new turn. Inspired by the late Brazilian author Clarice Lispector, arguably the Latin American writer most attuned to psychological issues, works like Geometry of Discord, Beyond Thought (pictured) convey something of the confluence of circumstance and emotion that can lead to intuitive flashes of epiphany. There is a near constructivist formalism about these dynamic new works, a nod perhaps to Lispector's Ukrainian birth before emigrating with her parents to Brazil as a child in the 1920s.
Keith Carter's Natural Histories series lives up to its name in images made using archaic lenses that take us through a looking glass into a parallel universe where feral humans and decorous animals all occupy a whimsically Darwinian wonderland. They may originate in east Texas, but Carter's images delve into the rich recesses of mythology and the human psyche to explore the common threads of human and animal attraction in forms ranging from the luminous blue wings of the Morpho moth to the mating games of formally attired humans in archaic bals masques. All appear as artifacts, reminders that we are products of the same earth with all of the beauty and animal urges that implies. — D. ERIC BOOKHARDT