August 1, 2006
Between the Blinds
A Brooklyn-based Cuban-born photographer looks at the city through its screens.
At first glance Luis Mallo’s In Camera photographs look like textiles or wallpaper. Repeated patterns act like prefab curtains, obscuring most of the scenery behind them. But in each photograph you catch a glimpse of the urban world behind the facade—through the negative spaces of a chain-link fence or a sliver between two sheets of plywood. “Now every time I walk down the street I see a good photograph,” Mallo says. “It’s that voyeuristic tendency to peek.”
The In Camera series began shortly after Mallo photographed a series of stained-glass windows in 1999—showing the layers and wires behind the colored glass that are meant to protect it. “Many of those pieces were in cemeteries and not cared for; they were cracked and dirty, or had pieces missing,” he says. “I could see multiple planes of information.” Two years later he began to look for the same types of visual effects in industrial areas—only on larger scales and sans the religion.
Mallo’s results make you question whether you are on the outside looking in, or vice versa. The irregular geometric surfaces in his photographs hide urban landscapes that many of us who live in cities see every day, but it’s what he decides to reveal—and conceal—that draws your eye and interest. “It references the medium of photography,” Mallo says. “I am showing a slice of reality.”