juried by Natasha Egan
March 10 – April 22, 2012
Serving as the juror for PHOTOGRAPHY NOW 2012 was at once a pleasure and a challenge. Nearly 300 submissions from artists across this nation covered a vast range of photographic styles, techniques, subjects, and ideas, and the eight projects that I ultimately selected cover a range in photographic practice today – abstraction, conceptual, constructed, documentary, narrative, and performative. I am drawn to work that is layered – visually or conceptually. Always intrigued by minimalism with cerebral depth, I am interested in photographs that communicate complex stories and educate the viewer with artistic and conceptual integrity. I am particularly attracted to works that possess irony, humor, or formal complexity.Continue Reading...
Three of the projects in the exhibition take family and friends for their subject matter but apply entirely different modes of photographic practice. In Wise Blood, Martha Fleming-Ives sensitively documents her father’s public life as a Congregational minister and his private life as an aging father with four daughters. Motohiro Takeda prints extremely dark photographs of interiors in his grandfather’s home in Japan to memorialize the passing of his grandfather and allude to the ways that memory works. Identical twin brothers Jason and Jesse Pearson construct narratives based on shared experiences, memories, family history, and fantasies, from adolescence to adulthood.
Other artists concentrate on socially constructed perceptions of land and space. Katie Shapiro humorously explores ideals of the American West by staging portraits of herself with her partner, a native Texan, in different national parks from the Channel Islands to Big Bend. In each picture they become progressively more cowboy-like as they approach Texas. Juan Fernandez‘s Facades depict familiar places such as homes, malls, and institutional spaces, but by cleverly manipulating the buildings he disrupts our perception of place. By seamlessly juxtaposing two or three images together, Terri Warpinski‘s Surface Tension looks at both physical and psychological barriers along both the US-Mexico border and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Territories.
Finally, two artists transform paper into metaphor. Bobby Davidson poetically and hauntingly creates photographs inspired by documentation taken during 9/11 and a scene in Don DeLillo’s novel Falling Man, where office paper and ash float down to the surface of earth from the sky. Jon-Phillip Sheridan turns a two-dimensional piece of paper into a three-dimensional object by folding it, and then uses special lighting to photograph the unfolded paper object. In Sheridan’s words, “These images are constantly shifting between the banality of their materiality and the spectacle of their illusion.”
I would like to thank each of the artists who submitted work. It was a great privilege to see the extent of strong images being produced today and to take in the varied stories and situations that were so carefully revealed to me.
– Natasha Egan, April 2012
The Director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago, Natasha Egan has organized numerous international and national exhibitions including The Road to Nowhere? For the FotoFest 2010 Biennial: Contemporary U.S. Photography. She has contributed essays to such publications as Brian Ulrich: Copia (Aperture, 2006) and Michael Wolf: The Transparent City (Aperture, 2008). Egan also teaches in the Photography and Humanities department at Columbia College Chicago and juries national and international exhibitions.