Nostalgia seemed to be another theme. Rita Bernstein used soft focus to good effect in Homecoming (2012), a photograph of a house and a solitary figure printed on handmade paper and manipulated with paint and beeswax. Ken Rosenthal likewise employed soft focus in Seen and Not Seen (2001), a shot of a bathing beauty that recalls the blurry strategies of Gerhard Richter. Jeffrey Baker added an ornate gold frame to a gridded seascape of choppy waves called Dark Water (2009) that suggested a weird collaboration between Donald Judd and Winslow Homer. And K.K. DePaul’s mixed-media assemblages—incorporating old photos, combs, handheld chalkboards, and other oddments—are compact evocations of bygone days.
There was fun stuff here too: Cynthia Greig’s witty Nature Mortes (all 2009), more like precise drawings than photographs; Jennifer Thoreson (Hudson)’s goofy tableaux of sleepers in strange interiors (one woman seems to be getting sucked up into a cloud of insulating foam); and Don Gregorio Antón’s dreamy ballets featuring anthropomorphized animals. All in all, “Diffusion” brought together a compelling choir of disparate and quirky voices.
A version of this story originally appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 101.