Christopher Dawson made it to the Michael Jackson funeral, at least the outside of the funeral, in much the same way as he has stood outside Britney Spears' custody hearing, Jerry Falwell's funeral in Lynchburg, Va., OJ Simpson' recent trial in Las Vegas, the Bernie Madoff sentencing on Centre Street and the original Michael Jackson child molestation trial. The results are on view in a show called "Coverage" at the Perkin Gallery at the Pequot Library in Southport, Conn., Sept. 1-Oct. 8, 2009.
Dawson, known as "Topher," is a modest fellow, expert at befriending law enforcement officers, getting behind police lines and lingering for hours to photograph the presence of the absence of something. The vacant beauty of his work chronicles the space not between art and life but between artifice and media. Often in a work such as Man with Blue Tie, Dawson lovingly focuses on a reporter, serving a priestly function between the crowd in the street and the crowd in your living room, two groups at a celebrity event who are both essential and invisible to the goings on.
Often these crowds leave their markers, which Dawson shows us in his Michael Jackson Shrine, but even then the people themselves are gone. Gone is indeed the operative word for the condition most of us find ourselves occupying in media world and celebrity land. It's peculiar what enablers the citizens of advanced civilization are to the useless beauty Christopher Dawson captures. If Michael Jackson has left the building, Mr. Dawson has just arrived.
Christopher Dawson, "Coverage," Sept. 1-Oct. 8, 2009, at the Perkin Gallery at the Pequot Library, 720 Pequot Avenue, Southport, Conn.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).