The Sasha Wolf Gallery has organized its current exhibition around dreams. "In Our Dreams" is a group show of 20 pictures — some black-and-white, some in color, ranging in size from 8 by 10 inches to 30 by 40 inches, taken between 1940 and this year — embracing several technologies and the different visions of the 19 photographers represented. The show was curated by Ms. Wolf and the photographer Peter Kayafas, one of whose pictures is included, and has pictures of people dreaming, pictures with dreamlike qualities, and pictures of dreams in the sense of objects of desire.
One of the dreamers is the subject of William Eggleston's "Untitled" (1975), a medium-format dye transfer print. A girl, a teenager, lies on the grass at midday with her eyes shut and her arms outstretched. In her left hand she holds a Brownie Hawkeye, one of the simple cameras Kodak sold inexpensively to encourage the purchasers to buy film. And Mr. Eggleston's print has several qualities of a picture made with a cheap camera and film processed at a drugstore, rather than with the professional camera I assume he actually used. The dye transfer process, noted for its deep colors, here emphasizes the ghastly overexposure of the girl's pale skin and white print dress. There is a latter-day Southern Gothic quality to the picture, as if the sleeping girl was a character in a Flannery O'Connor short story, but we have no more idea of what she is dreaming than we do of the pictures on the undeveloped roll of film in her Brownie Hawkeye.
Another one of the sleepers is the gent Lee Friedlander caught in "Man in Window, New York City" (1964). The man is seen through a rectangular opening left in the white paint covering the bottom half of a street window in an industrial building in Lower Manhattan. We can tell roughly where it is because the neighborhood is reflected in the top half of the window. The middle-age man (he is balding) sits with his head in his arms on his desk. Why is he sleeping during the day? Will he be in trouble if he is discovered? He is a dreamer (maybe), and the picture, because of the way he is tightly framed in the opening and because of the reflections above him, has a dreamlike quality.
Milton Rogovin's diptych "Atlas Steel" (1978) consists of two pictures of the same steelworker. In the first, he is on the job, wearing a filthy T-shirt and a hard hat. A heavyset man with a mustache and dark-rimmed glasses, he seems a jaunty, intelligent sort. In the second picture, he wears a casual velour pullover and stands in front of a spiffy motorboat on a trailer in the driveway of a suburban house. In the context of the exhibition at Wolf, I interpret his expression as one of pride and contentment at having realized his dream. His material dream, anyway.
A dreamlike quality can be produced using several different techniques. Jeff Brouws's "Phillips 66, Sayre, Oklahoma" (1992) is a chromogenic dye coupler print of a deserted stretch of highway in a fog. The road is gray, the sky is a lighter gray, telephone poles, streetlamps, and a tree are just visible, and the only touches of color are the red in the Phillips sign and a stop sign. The faded tones suggest a dreamlike quiet.
In Jules Aarons's "West End, Boston" (1954), it is the strong backlighting down an alley that produces the dreamlike effect. The child running toward us is caught in midair so that her lengthened shadow is separated from her flying feet as if she was levitating. Because the setting sun is at her back, there is highlighting on her hair but her face is in shadow, obscuring the identification of the little flier.
Nancy Rexroth used a cheapie Chinese-made Diana camera for her "Iowa" series from the mid-1970s. The project, which involved pictures taken in several states, was meant to invoke her childhood in the Midwest. "House and Bush, Pomeroy, OH" (1976) and "Theater, Vanceburg, Kentucky" (1975) are blurred and out of focus, the results of the slow shutter speed and crummy lens typical of cheapie cameras, but also, of course, the result of the artist's intentions; the fuzzy images are emblematic of scenes dimly remembered from long ago. "Mount Huntington in Late Afternoon Mist" (1964) by Bradford Washburn achieves its dreamlike quality in exactly the opposite manner. The aerial photograph of the backlit crest of a snowcapped mountain in Alaska is so crystal clear there is an aura of unreality about it.
Harry Callahan superimposed two images in "Eleanor, Aix-en-Provence" (1958) to create a photograph redolent of pagan myth. There is a picture of a field of wildflowers with some trees at the edge of the field and the silhouette of low hills beyond them, but laid over this idyllic scene is a transparent picture of Callahan's wife's naked midsection, from her knees to about her stomach, with her crotch and pubic hair conspicuously hovering over the field. Is this Persephone or some nameless goddess of the Mediterranean littoral come to fecundate nature?
Not all dreams are pleasant. Peter Kayafas's "Highpoint, North Carolina" (1993) is a picture of a young woman who has leapt from a forest ledge and is falling into we cannot see what. And Garry Winogrand's slightly off-kilter "Peace Demonstration, Central Park, New York" (1970) reminds me of a time when more than the horizon line was askew.
Until August 9 (10 Leonard St., between West Broadway and Hudson Street, 212-925-0025).