Osceola Refetoff’s interest is in documenting humanity’s impact on the world – both the intersection of nature and industry, and the narratives of the people living at those crossroads. His images exist within traditional means – landscape, portraiture, travel, editorial – and are variously produced using film, digital, infrared, and pinhole exposures, according to what best expresses the character of his subjects. Thus, despite his documentarian impulses and the fact that his images deliberately depict quite ordinary, even mundane subjects, he trains on them a hyper-realistic and nuanced vision, often yielding surreal, even dreamlike images. His process generally happens “in camera,” at the moment of capture, in a kind of alchemical reaction that transforms the external world into something both unchanged and extraordinary, realistic and magical.
Refetoff’s motion picture background informs his approach to constructing visual narratives. His early artistic influences include the great mise-en-scène directors Lang, Welles, Kubrick, and Melville, whose techniques are apparent in his meticulous framing of compositions in depth, use of in-camera effects, and explorations of temporal as well as visual space. With an appreciation for the quirks and rebellions of technology that thwart the medium’s pretensions of authoritative objectivity, Refetoff reminds viewers that the photographic document is always a collaboration between a human and a machine, asking questions about truth, dispassion, control, and invention that are inherently part of how photography functions in the world.
From Desert Windows examining the formal gestures that people use to frame and contain their relationship to the landscape, to related series like Magic and Realism, Flirting with Disaster, and Prayer Changes Things examining how they build their lives and move through these lands, Refetoff shifts between stylistic modes of representation to build layered, multidimensional histories of architecture, landscape, and population. What links all the forms and aspects of his eclectic practice is a commitment to capture “what the picture requires,” using the many cameras he carries to render not only how a place looks, but how it feels to be there.
Shana Nys Dambrot - Art Critic & Curator
Photo: Eric Minh Swenson
A native Chicagoan, Osceola is half Danish, half Bulgarian, and half Canadian. Refetoff holds as a B.A. from Duke University and an M.F.A. from New York University's Graduate Film Program, where he earned a Paulette Goddard Scholarship and the Warner Bros Fellowship Award. His photography has been featured in Artillery, Arid, Hemispheres, The New York Times, Palm Springs Life, and WhiteHot, among many others, repeatedly earning the Outdoor Writers Association of California's craft awards for Best Feature Photo, Best Photographic Series and Best Overall Photo. In 2018, Refetoff was named OWAC's Writer of the Year and received a Los Angeles Press Club award for Activist Journalism. His work is widely exhibited, including institutions like the San Diego Art Institute, Museum of Art & History (Lancaster), Palm Springs Art Museum, Museo Area Archeologica Arte Contemporanea (Italy), and Porch Gallery (Ojai), with solo exhibitions covered in the The Los Angeles Times, ArtScene, Huffington Post, Fabrik, LA Weekly, and other publications.
His current focus is an expansive set of portfolios surveying the human presence in the deserts of the American West, in particular High & Dry, a long-term collaboration with writer/historian Christopher Langley. Balancing image and word, the personal and historical, its topic is the future and legacy of human activity on those arid lands. The project is regularly syndicated on KCET's Emmy-winning program Artbound, and was voted KCET’s “Best of 2016” for both Art+Environment and Photography programming. The project received OWAC’s 2016 and 2018 Best Outdoor Media Award, the organization’s highest overall honor for work in any medium.
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Limited edition fine art prints are available for purchase. Prints are typically editions of 20 and come in two sizes, 17x22” and 24x30–36”. Each print is titled, signed, dated and numbered on verso. The 24x3X" prints include a Certificate of Authenticity. Open edition prints are also available in 8.5x11" size - titled, signed, and dated on verso.
Prints are manufactured in-house at Chungking Studio in Los Angeles Chinatown. Papers include Hahnemuhle Fine Art Museum Etching, Ilford Galerie Smooth Cotton Rag, and other fine art papers selected based on tests to determine which material best suits the interpretation of each individual image. These museum-quality, 290-350 GSM-weight papers are exceptionally robust and render outstanding detail.
After a successful print is inspected and approved, a protective seal is applied using a three-step process that increases moisture, dirt, fingerprint, and UV resistance; extending the already significant color-fastness of modern archival inks approximately 3x the length of untreated prints.
If you are interested in purchasing a print, you can order directly from this website's drop-down menu or better yet, contact us at info(at)ospix.com. Not all images are available in all sizes, as some have yet to be interpreted as prints – a process that usually takes two to three days. The website indicates the date each image was captured, as well as the date the first exhibition print was executed (if applicable). Images do not achieve their final form until an exhibition print has been rendered.
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