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Of Infinite Space: Opening at photo-eye Bookstore's Project Space

Book Review Of Infinite Space Photographs by David Loughridge Reviewed by Sarah Bradley David Loughridge, an early Meow Wolf member, passed away at age 33, leaving behind a large archive of stunning unpublished photographs. Curated to match his portfolio and printing style, Of Infinite Space brings together snapshots of daily life with family and friends, conceptual portraits, and a reproduction of “Hall of Fools,” his 2009 solo show at Meow Wolf.
Of Infinite Space. By David Loughridge.
Of Infinite Space  
Photographs by David Loughridge

Meow Wolf, Santa Fe, 2019. 
Unpaged, 11x10x1¼".

David Loughridge was a born documentarian. His photographic practice began as an irreverent record of adventures with friends at boarding school and grew into a deep fascination with portraiture and street photography.

Upon moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, David’s camera was in constant use: creating thoughtful portraits of his friends and artful behind-the-scenes photographs of the early Meow Wolf collective, of which David was an integral member.

David passed away at 33, leaving behind a large archive of stunning unpublished photographs. Curated to match his portfolio assemblages and printing style, Of Infinite Space brings together snapshots of daily life with family and friends, conceptual portraits, and a reproduction of Hall of Fools, his 2009 solo show at Meow Wolf.

Meow Wolf will be co-hosting an event at photo-eye Project Space to honor David Loughridge and his posthumous monograph, Of Infinite Space.

The opening reception will take place from 5:00pm to 7:00pm on Saturday, October 12th at 1300 Rufina Cir Suite A3. The show is on view through November 30th, 2019.

In anticipation of the opening, photo-eye contributor Sarah Bradley has written some words on Of Infinite Space and her memories of David.

Of Infinite Space. By David Loughridge.

Of Infinite Space is a collection of photographs spanning about 15 years of David Loughridge’s life. He started making photographs as a teenager in boarding school in Maine, and continued to use photography as a way to document, describe and understand life up until his death. He was 33 when he passed away. I knew him during his last five years, a time which included working together on a few massive projects with the then DIY art collective Meow Wolf.

Of Infinite Space. By David Loughridge.
I feel like a terrible choice in writing about David’s book, even though it makes perfect sense for me to do so. No amount of looking at or writing about photobooks has prepared me to see this book without personal distortion. It’s a book where I appear in pictures full of people whose names I can rattle off like classmates in a yearbook. The first time I met David was purely by accident. I found a set of keys lying in the dirt near a bike locked up outside of photo-eye Bookstore, back when it was in the little house at the edge of the Downtown Subscription parking lot. Sitting inside a few minutes before, I had noticed my friend Kirstiann from the window walking bikes with someone I didn’t know, so I picked up the keys and went into the coffee shop looking for them.

I have such a clear image of the look on David’s face when I returned the keys to him. The level of gratitude that greeted me would have been memorable even if he hadn’t become a friend a few months later. He was the type of guy you’d call if your car broke down in the middle of the night. I actually did this once, and without any hesitation, he was there.

I feel David’s intensity again in his photographs. He preferred to draw his photographic world in black and white. It’s a world of long exposures and shadow play, of high contrast. I see so much of him in these images. They are both dark and playful, catching himself mid-back flip or radiant eyes peeking through a circle and glowing like a winking moon. Thinking back on those days, many of his images seem oddly still. He captured quiet moments between exuberances with an eye for interior spaces within the frenetic scene. He found us in moments when we may as well have been invisible, individuals tangled in thought. But I remember enough to know that in some of those isolated scenes 50 people are just out of frame.

Of Infinite Space. By David Loughridge.

David had a disarming frankness when discussing his bipolar disorder. It was part of him, part of knowing him. Mental illness itself can be a kind of distortion and photography was frequently a coping method for him, perhaps a way to trick the brain back into clearer sight. David would photograph at night when he couldn’t sleep, capturing the glow of city lights and self-portraits, fuzzy long exposures in which he’d sometimes depict himself twice. His first collaboration with Meow Wolf, a solo photography show titled Hall of Fools, included an explicit description of his time in a behavioral and mental health hospital. The text began with “Hello and welcome. My name is David. I have a mental illness called bipolar disorder.” Over the course of the three days the show was open, David invited viewers to draw and write on his photographs, which they eagerly did. A number of adorned images from the show, as well as documentation of its install, are featured in the book. His line introducing his bipolar disorder prompted a note saying, “Me too.”

Of Infinite Space. By David Loughridge.

Seeing us through his lens, I recognize layers of David on top of each image. It’s not that he didn’t capture who we were, but his lens distorted us too, and sometimes allowed us distortions of our own designs. Another portfolio briefly featured in the book is a series of nudes that became earnest shared expressions of his friends and their inner selves. Scattered through these pages are projects and candid moments, tender portraits and documentation of shared lives, be they Meow Wolf or with his family. David had a knack for seeing the scenes within scenes, and consistently these images stay with me the most – Nick and Sean gazing at each other while Kirstiann chomps food in the foreground; a nephew learning to stand in a busy kitchen. We are like a Renaissance painting in one of my favorites, sitting around a maquette on the floor at a Meow Wolf meeting, each of us in separate worlds, like our own tiny The School of Athens.

I am too colored with my memories of David to see these photographs without seeing him, but ultimately, I hope others can see him too. Photography was an expression of love for David; it was an act of care, and I hope that his humanity, struggle and kindness will always remain visible.

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Of Infinite Space. By David Loughridge.

Sarah Bradley is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice spans writing, audio, sculpture, installation, and costume. Her writing on photobooks has appeared in photo-eye, IMA, Phroom and Southwest Contemporary. Bradley is a co-founder of the Santa Fe art space Etiquette, a Creative Director at Meow Wolf and a co-host of the Too Sick podcast.