The New Yorker


Jan 11, 2010

by Vince Aletti

“Winter Stories” continues Ventura’s imaginary re-creation of prewar Italy, in photographs of wonderfully evocative sets and figures he constructs himself. Because every detail of these sites is meticulously realized, the work is as seductive as a magic act; you know it’s all an elaborate fake, but you’re enjoying it too much to locate the flaws. Ventura takes us to a small-town carnival, complete with sword-swallower, fire-eater, juggler, and clowns. The settings, with their pale, weathered color, may be dour—this fairy tale is grounded in some harsh reality—but marvellous things happen here, such as the appearance of a bird-headed man and the levitation of a balloon seller (note the snow on the soles of his shoes). Through Jan. 23. (Hasted Hunt Kraeutler, 537 W. 24th St. 212-627-0006.)