Questions Without Answers: Photographs by the Photo Agency VII
curated by Amy Schlegel
October 8 – 31, 2010
Questions Without Answers presents photographs from the renowned VII Photo Agency depicting defining events of the post-Cold War period and their aftermaths, from the Fall of the Berlin Wall and September 11, 2001, to Iraq and Afghanistan, The Balkans and Congo, Chechnya and Gaza, among others.
The unique contributions of the independent photojournalists affiliated with VII are highlighted in more than 125 photographs, newly printed for the occasion, many displayed for the first time. These photojournalists collectively embody the tradition of concerned photography as their mission is to “document conflict — environmental, social and political, both violent and nonviolent — to produce an unflinching record of the injustices created and experienced by people caught up in the events they describe.” As Stephen Mayes, CEO of VII, comments, “[VII’s] work has never been about simplistic representation, but rather about supporting debate and contributing to change.”
The end of the Cold War in 1989 began a new era in world history as globalization, modernization, regional and civil conflicts, complex terrorism, and environmental issues surged to the fore. People, states, and regions struggled to grapple with these ongoing challenges. At the same time, the media was enmeshed in a shift from traditional reportage to the era of multimedia, 24-hour coverage that blurs the distinctions between professional and citizen reporters. This exhibition offers a prism of both cataclysmic events and persistent conundrums of the last several decades.
In 2004, on the occasion of the founding of its program for photojournalism, documentary studies, and human rights called Exposure, the IGL established a partnership with VII Photo Agency. James Nachtwey, a VII co-founder, commented then that “Exposure will help us all to understand photography as a valuable tool that can help us learn how to make sense of the violence, the destruction, the chaos of this world. Exposure will help to create an incredibly important historical legacy, providing meaning in our lives. Most importantly, it can help to create a public awareness integral to the process of change.” Since then, VII photographers have mentored Tufts students in workshops in Argentina, Bali, Cambodia, Kashmir, and Kosovo.
This exhibition has been co-organized by the Tufts University Art Gallery, Tufts’ Institute for Global Leadership and VII Photo Agency, with images selected by the directors of the three organizations, with assistance from a Tufts Exposure leader, Samuel James. The exhibition was curated by Amy Schlegel, director of the Tufts University Art Gallery.
VII gratefully acknowledges Canon USA whose support made many of these photographs and the prints in the exhibition possible.