The cityscape is laid bare in Michael Wolf’s dense photographic works as a honeycomb of little boxes wherein countless lonely dramas play out. In The Transparent City, currently showing at Robert Koch Gallery, Wolf mostly eschews obviously staged scenes that scream out the details of internal or external conflict instead relying on the viewer to read into every solitary occupant of an office space or sky-rise apartment the delineaments of their despair. You can see it in the heaviness of shoulders, or the way so many of them are standing, restless, caught in mid-pace or rising from a desk in a disillusioning moment. While captured collectively, the distance between each, even those in adjacent spaces, feels immense (the big screen TV displaying an image of Jimmy Stewart from Rear Window was a bit much however).
As I followed the pictures around the room, I noticed that we seemed to be progressively pulling back, emphasizing the scale of the isolation. By the time we reach the brilliantly lit Chicago skyline from afar, we feel the weight of every lighted window.


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