Review

by Jean Dykstra
in Art on Paper, New York

There's plenty of action, in Kurt Caviezel's Red Light (Zürich, Berlin, NewYork, Scalo, 2000, $45). In the tradition (sort of) of Walker Evans and, more recently, Luc Delahaye, this is the Swiss contribution to photographs of anonymous passengers.

Rather than smuggling his camera onto the subway, Caviezel stayed in his apartment and, using a 100mm telephoto lens, photographed the occupants of cars stopped at a red light. These are grainy, partial glimpses, yet Caviezel manages to catch a sometimes comic accumulation of fleeting gestures within these seemingly private cocoons.

He has grouped the images loosely, but thematically: drivers talking on the phone, appeasing children, eating; animals (from living passengers to faux zebra seat covers); people arguing, preening in rear-view mirrors, and (of course) picking their noses. Drivers and passengers hold hands, kiss, smoke, gesticulate, read (!).

But within this remarkable variety, it's actually the repetition of gesture that stands out:
the number of people who scratch with intense concentration at their arms, for instance, or yawn with abandon while waiting for the light to change are part of his rough typology of behind-the-wheel behavior. And we, sheepishly, recognize ourselves in these pictures of anonymous strangers.