Gray Area: Uncertain Images

Bay Area Photography 1970's to Now
December 03, 2003 to February 14, 2004

This exhibition seeks to reimagine the Bay Area as the "Gray Area"—an amorphous, ambiguous, and ultimately fictional geography, pervaded by uncertainty and doubt—by exploring some of the tensions between objectivity and subjectivity in Bay Area photography produced over the past three decades. The selection of artists and works is intentionally broad, yet behind each image there exists a substantial investment in photography's potential to create a sense of unease.

Many of the works in The Gray Area offer a pessimistic, almost dystopian, take on the typical idealized image of West Coast life. The clich├ęd perennial blue skies of California are often supplanted by murky nocturnal images that invoke a sense of urban or suburban foreboding. Yet ultimately what unites these photographers and photographs is an appreciation of photography's potential to dramatize and amplify the quotidian world. Truth becomes an elastic category that enters into the realm of fiction, and photography—and the photographic images themselves—become an unstable, shifting, and unsettling terrain.


Keith Boadwee
Tammy Rae Carland
Trisha Donnelly
Maizie Gilbert
Jim Goldberg
Doug Hall
Todd Hido
Jim Jocoy
Arnold Kemp
Eric Kroll
Gabriela Laz
Mike Mandel
Ari Marcopoulos
Richard Misrach
Lynne Nerenbaum
Abner Nolan
Arthur Ollman
Gay Outlaw
Bill Owens
Aaron Plant
John Priola
Will Rogan
Larry Sultan
Henry Wessel

Generous support for The Gray Area is provided by Mary and Harold Zlot. Significant support for the CCA Wattis Institute has been provided by Phyllis C. Wattis and Jduy and Bill Timken. Additional generous support provided by Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund.