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Wednesday, Apr 30 2014

A treasure hunt conjures images of adventure, thrills, and pirates who look like Johnny Depp. Reality is a bit bleaker: empty sluices and empty stomachs, "fill-in-the-blank or bust" most often ending in the latter. Sarina Finkelstein spent four years photographing modern-day prospectors for her series The New Forty-Niners. As grizzled, desperate, and dejected-looking as their predecessors, they bet it all on the hope of striking it rich, panning for gold in the Angeles and Klamath national forests in Southern and Northern California, respectively. In her photos, they gaze abjectly at the camera, waiting for their luck to change. Then there's Riley, raised on a diet of Mark Twain, always gazing off to the horizon. A punk with a metal detector and a day job, he combs for bent spoons and single earrings tailed by photographer Jenny Riffle — Sancho Panza to his Don Quixote — chronicling his quest in Scavenger: Adventures in Treasure Hunting. For Riley it's a hobby, but one in which he appears to find no joy, driven by unknown forces to unearth seemingly worthless relics. But they might be treasures. The two solo shows complement each other perfectly, the circumstances of the photographers' subjects differing but sharing a common theme: not treasure, but bleak desperation.

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: May 8. Continues through June 21, 2014

About The Author

Michael Singman-Aste

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