Tomie Arai

Tomie Arai

MOMOTARO / Peach Boy

November 2 – December 22, 2002

Momotaro/ Peach Boy is a series based on the popular Japanese folk tale about a baby boy who emerges from a giant peach and grows up to become a hero. The piece is composed of thirteen wood panels arranged to form ‘pages’ of a fictional narrative. Each of the panels is composed of a painted laser transfer that incorporates family photographs and images assembled from popular culture. These images include photographs of my father, grandparents, and son, as well as cartoon characters, material from the National Archives, traditional Japanese motifs, and illustrations appropriated from magazines, and children’s books.

As a third generation Japanese American, my interest in constructing a contemporary Japanese American folk tale was inspired by family memories of the internment. At the heart of this narrative is the experience of the Issei (the first generation of Japanese in America) and the role the Nisei GI’s played in changing American attitudes and opinion after World War II. My own work over the years has focused on projects which explore the relationship between art and history, and which combine autobiography, oral history, and portraiture in the art making process. Oral traditions, storytelling and nontraditional forms of bookmaking have also fascinated me. I am particularly interested in folk tales, folk histories, and stories created to explain historical events that are passed down by word of mouth over many generations.

Momotaro is a classic adventure tale, but it is also a story of hope and redemption. It can be read many ways. During World War II, the Japanese government used Momotaro as a propaganda vehicle for promoting nationalism and imperialist expansion overseas.  In my updated version, Momotaro is a story about the immigrant experience; a story of possibilities and second chances.  The traditional story is told as follows. An old couple nearing the end of their lives have always dreamed of having a child. One day they discover a giant peach floating in the river and when they open the peach, a baby boy leaps out. The boy grows up, goes off on a journey to defeat the monsters that have been terrorizing his village, and returns to his village laden with riches. In both the traditional and contemporary versions of this story, the couple is rewarded for a lifetime of hard work and self-sacrifice with a perfect child. Momotaro’s brave deeds redeem his aging parents in the eyes of society. The peach, an Asian symbol of longevity and fertility, is woven into Momotaro’s clothing in the form of a crest and appears as an ever-present reminder of the importance of family and community.

Momotaro was told to me as a young child, and it was not difficult to see my father as the brave young boy who goes off to fight the wicked ogres. I have tried to retell this story from both a child’s and an adult’s point of view. In the retelling, I was less concerned with the truth, as with presenting a completely imaginary version of the truth. Momotaro is not a celebration of my father¹s heroic deeds, but an examination of the ways in which we create folk heroes and share stories of survival by bending the truth, fictionalizing history, and embellishing memory. Momotaro is a piece that explores the fusion between folk traditions and a contemporary art practice that is grounded in the recording of personal and social experience. Unlike the original folk tale, there is no ending. The final panel in this sequence, a self-portrait with my first child, becomes both the end and the beginning of the story.

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Tomie Arai lives and works in NYC. Ms. Arai has painted murals with community groups in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, taught art to children in NYC public schools, and has designed permanent public works of art for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cambridge Arts Council, and the New York City Board of Education. Her work has been exhibited nationally and her prints are in the collections of the Library of Congress, the Avon Corporate Collection, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art. She has been a recipient of two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowship, and a MidAtlantic Arts Foundation Visual Artists Residency. In 1997, she was one of ten women nationwide to receive an Anonymous Woman Grant for achievement in the visual arts. Ms. Arai is currently completing a 60-foot mosaic mural commissioned by the Percent for Art Program in NYC, which will be installed in the lobby of the new Administration for Children¹s Services Center in NYC. This winter she will begin work on a memorial for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of the civil rights movement commissioned by the Riverside Church in NYC.

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Imaginary Homelands

IMAGINARY HOMELANDS:
Reconstituted Narratives in the Digital Landscape

curated by Kathleen Ruiz

artists: Kofi Amponsah, Anuar Ayob, Tom Bamberger, Meghan Boody, Sigrid Hackenberg, Rachelle Menshikova, Guto Nobrega, Lazarina Todorova, and Elyn Zimmerman

November 2 – December 22, 2002

It may be that writers….exiles or emigrants or expatriates, are haunted by some sense of loss, some urge to reclaim, to look back, even at the risk of being mutated into pillars of salt.

But if we do look back, we must also do so in the knowledge – which gives rise to profound uncertainties – that our physical alienation…almost inevitably means that we will not be capable of reclaiming precisely that thing that was lost; that we will, in short, create fictions, not actual cities or villages, but invisible ones, imaginary homelands…of the mind.

“…It may be argued that the past is a country, from which we have all emigrated, that its loss is part of our common humanity.” – Salman Rushdie

Imaginary Homelands is an exhibition exploring the notion of “homeland” within the context of the transience, portability, and flexibility of digital media. The exhibition includes the work of a diverse group of nine artists who investigate this subject using digital media ranging from photographic and video methodologies to interactive virtual environment installations. Each artist presents a strong personal, political or psychological discourse on the preservation, reflection, exploration, and longing for a home that may or may not be actual. The works presented were created by artists from Ghana, Latvia, Israel, Malaysia, Spain, America, Brazil, and Bulgaria. The title is taken from Salman Rushdie’s collection of essays and criticism of the same name – his ten-year personal and intellectual odyssey that records the politics and irony of culture, film, religious fundamentalism, racial prejudice, and the preciousness of the imagination and free expression. The common theme seen throughout the work included in the Imaginary Homelands exhibition is coping with transience, a topic that is especially relevant in our current times of displacement, globalization, and the turmoil of unresolved conflicts worldwide.

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Imaginary Homelands presents combinations of traditional and digital techniques. The show is intended to inspire artists to explore new forms of expression for the future. It is the very slipperiness of our digital storehouses that so wonderfully reflects our own impermanence, while at the same time they promise us the immortality of Lyotard’s notion of thought existing without a body and more appropriately here without a permanent physical home.

Kofi Amponsah, an artist and educator from Ghana, lives in Albany, NY and is currently working on his doctoral thesis at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York (RPI). Kofi presents an interactive installation that merges the 5′ x 4′ physical hardwood loom that he brought from Africa, with an interactive spatial narrative containing photographs of his native land. He views the use of digital technologies as integral to stimulating, promoting, and preserving the traditional African art form of weaving “Kente” cloth, whose origins trace back to ancient West African kingdoms which flourished between 300 A.D and 1600 A.D. In Kente Nwen Toma (Kente Woven Cloth) we are the observer and also the observed caught in the process of observation. Jonathan Crary points out in his seminal text, “Techniques of the Observer”, that stereographic viewing of a particular location can create an immediate apparent tangibility and even the sense of déjà vu when later experiencing the physical place itself.[3] In Kente Nwen Toma we have a visual and also a spatial beginning of what may be in store when we do touch base in Ghana.

Born in Malaysia, Anuar Ayob came to the United States two years ago to further his study in Electronic Arts at RPI. His work deals with issues of the social and cultural identity of the Malay people. Being a foreigner in the U.S., and faced with different cultures, issues, perceptions, and complications, Ayob has produced videos, installations, and works created for the internet that relate to his homeland. In PRESERVING  MALAY, a 10 minute single channel video created in 2002, Ayob portrays the lifestyles of a family from Malaysia, who has been living in Troy, New York for the past 8 years. The video is about parents who are trying to enlighten and maintain the identity of their children by teaching them the culture, language, and the lifestyles of the Malay people and Islamic practice. This experimental documentary was a collaboration with all the family members, who were not only the subjects portrayed, but the creators who also recorded some of the footage.

Tom Bamberger a photographer, who lives in Milwaukee, is currently exploring landscape photography as a “meditation on truth”. Here he presents recent work that uses digital techniques to form repetitive elements from “real” landscape photographs. He begins by extending the boundaries of the horizon line to exceed beyond 360 degrees. Using the computer to clone and erase sections of his landscape photographs, Bamberger extends the information that comes from the smaller frame of a camera in an almost biologic process akin to reproductive copying of DNA. Bamberger describes his method as “processing and choosing elements that seem more ‘natural’ or just natural enough to not seem synthetic.” His pieces California Homes and Spring Trees, suggest both what one feels intuitively to be the patterns of the synthetic and those of the landscapes of nature. He leaves us finding solace in repetition and opens us to see profound clarity within the quotidian.

Meghan Boody exhibits the “imaginary homelands” residing within the territory of the mind. A New York based artist, trained as a photographer, Boody creates elaborate surrealistic and psychologically charged narratives of young girls’ metamorphosis into adolescence. She photographs models and friends who are costumed and posed as symbolic figures for her final compositions, which are composed within the computer and then digitally printed. Psyche and Smut is an ongoing series of large prints arranged like pages from a book which tell the tale of a “proper, well-bred” young girl’s journey into the darkly erotic side of her own self, the struggle for supremacy between the “good twin” and the “evil twin” (id versus ego), and the eventual transformations that both selves undergo in the process of incorporating into one singular soul.”[4] Boody’s allegory of the acculturation of girls into the often-restrictive roles that societies ascribe for them transforms photography from what is traditionally an instrument of verification to one that rearranges histories and clears the view to reveal simultaneity of events whose origins lie in the use of photomontage within the art movements of Dada and Surrealism.

Born in Barcelona, Spain and raised in Spain, Germany, Canada, Japan, and America, Sigrid Hackenberg has, almost by necessity, created imaginary homelands through her work in video and installation. Her two-channel video projection installation, The Time and the Place was recorded in the Extremadura area of Spain, an arid, harsh landscape dominated by groves of olive trees. The landscape is elongated to over 80 inches, transformed metaphorically by the stretch of memory. Recollection of a place of contemplation, so limited in the rush of the contemporary world, is there and intact, held by the simplicity of nature and the human traces remembered and recorded, yet it is distant and pieced together. Hackenberg’s work is an observation of the moments of everyday life; the time and place now preserved personifying her belief that “a spiritual presence in nature, sound, objects, people, and places exists.”

Rachelle Menshikova, a Russian born Israeli, presents As It Happens, a 20 minute video consisting of a collection of personal narratives by young Israeli women who talk about their lives at particular moments: first during the negotiations at Camp David in the summer of 2000 and again in 2002, as the ongoing current war/struggle in Israel becomes almost consuming. As It Happens gives a voice to women situated in their home environments and gives the private voice exposure in public. Rachelle states, “I believe, we all (artists in particular) function bringing a witness to this world. One tends to expect certain integrity from a witness, at least integrity in a sense of honesty and sincerity. The accent on the witness from this perspective was one of the goals taken in this work. Even though the work has no claim to be an historical document, I still feel the importance of sticking to the truths living in my friends’ (the interviewed women) feelings and emotions.

“This conflict, locked in the condition of ‘no exit’, teaches us among other things to stop asking the popular question ‘how is it going to end?’ This very desire for resolution, being a part of human nature, when taken to the extremes, fuels the fires of aggression and violence. Through exposing the emotional experiences of people’s voices in this work I hope to offer a chance to the Western cultured audience to realize that they are not watching and involving themselves in a Western movie which has a stable continuation on TV screens daily, but rather witnessing a tragedy of two nations. The women talking throughout As It Happens are mothers and their connections between the past and the future as well as between the fantasy and the fear are particularly distinctive due to their maternal instincts, which function as driving forces for each of their child’s survival from the beginning of the pregnancy. I believe that creating a portrait based on witnessing emotional subjective experience allows us to rethink the values for realness, making an addition to the political circumstances.” Rachellle’s powerful narrative presents the complexities of survival in extremely difficult circumstances and gives us hope that life continues even as one faces conflicts which threaten states, regions, or territories.

Guto Nóbrega, born in Brazil in 1965, is a professor at the School of Fine Arts in the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. His interests center around interactivity and interface as a way to think about and construct new realities with the help of digital technologies. Nobrega asks us to consider that the digital body is converging as a hybrid with our physical body and space. Cache Memory is a work about time and memory. His childhood photographs were used as reference and inspiration for the contemporary re-photographing of those exact places, although he is no longer there posed as a child. Memory is recovered by the photos and the memory of the computer that allows interaction with the digital image on the web site. Cache Memory shows that the past, the present, and the future can become one by a mere click of the finger.

Lazarina Todorova was born in 1977 in the town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Todorova’s video and installation work aspire to articulate the complexity and relevance of issues of migration, mobility, assimilation, cultural identification and alienation, the re-discovery of “roots” and origins, the longing for belonging, and the hybridity of the self. Her recent creative endeavors reflect “a deeply personal engagement with the themes of transnational experience and displacement.” Her work, Untitled, 2001 is an 11-minute single-channel video and is an autobiographical work, communicating a desire to re-invent the idea of home, both as a tangible experience situated in the physicality of geography and as a dislocated presence/absence that inhabits the realm of the imaginary. Two parallel worlds (one of fast-paced, media-saturated dynamism and the other of seemingly reassuring permanence and simplicity) are represented through the two interweaving portraits of the artist and her grandmother. Shifting between modes of dissonance and synchronicity, their relationship grows to transcend the reductive binaries of culture, tradition, and individualism and affirms a deep spiritual connection of both cultural transmission and transformation. Shards of memory acquire greater status and greater resonance as trivial things become symbols for not only the subjects in the video, but also for us, the viewer.

Elyn Zimmerman is a New York based artist, born in Philadelphia, PA, who works in a variety of media including stone, photography, and digital media. Her photographs of archaic structures and ruins worldwide serve as a personal library of images that inform and stimulate her work as a sculptor of large scale stone works, often for Public Art commissions. Her work conveys a strong longing for permanence in a fleeting world. The Iris digital ink jet prints in the MAGNA GRÆCIA series are, in the artists words, “very traditional images, but framed with a modern ‘eye’. They refer to the long tradition of 19th Century travel photography and its fine-grained verisimilitude, but have been freely altered in large and small ways with the magic of Photoshop.” Zimmerman makes a compelling study of the mutable imagescape of the ancient remains of the once flourishing Greek seaport colonies of southern Italy and Sicily. [5]

– Kathleen Ruiz, 2002 

Kathleen Ruiz is a digital media artist, curator, and Assistant Professor of Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

                                                                                                                                                         

1. Rushdie, Salman, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991, New York, Penguin Books, 1991, pgs. 10 & 12.

2. Lyotard, Jean-Francois, The Inhuman: Reflections on Time Fr. 1988, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991, pgs. 11-15.

3. Crary, Jonathan, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century. Mass.: MIT Press, Cambridge, 1990, pgs.123-124.

4. Korotkin, Joyce, “The New York Art World”, October 2000.

5. Lunenfeld, Peter, Snap to Grid: A User’s Guide to Digital Arts, Media, and Cultures, Boston, The MIT Press, 2000, pg. 69.

Special thanks to John Kolb, Sharon Roy, Marc Miller and Patrick Valiquette at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for the loan of laptop computers. Also special thanks to Sigrid Hackenberg who is the inspiration for the title of the exhibition and to Frances Gray for her encouragement. Additionally huge thanks to Ariel, Kate, Larry, Colleen, and Kathleen at the Center for Photography at Woodstock for all their help and support in making this exhibition possible. 

[one_half first]"Imaginary Homelands", curated by Kathleen Ruiz, November 2 – December 22, 2002Kofi Amponsha[/one_half] [one_half]"Imaginary Homelands", curated by Kathleen Ruiz, November 2 – December 22, 2002Meghan Boody[/one_half] [one_half first]"Imaginary Homelands", curated by Kathleen Ruiz, November 2 – December 22, 2002Anuar Ayob[/one_half] [one_half]"Imaginary Homelands", curated by Kathleen Ruiz, November 2 – December 22, 2002Tom Bamberger[/one_half] [one_half first]"Imaginary Homelands", curated by Kathleen Ruiz, November 2 – December 22, 2002Sigrid Hackenberg[/one_half] [one_half]"Imaginary Homelands", curated by Kathleen Ruiz, November 2 – December 22, 2002Rachelle Menshikova[/one_half] [one_half first]"Imaginary Homelands", curated by Kathleen Ruiz, November 2 – December 22, 2002Guto Nóbrega[/one_half] [one_half]"Imaginary Homelands", curated by Kathleen Ruiz, November 2 – December 22, 2002Lazarina Todorova[/one_half] [one_half first]"Imaginary Homelands", curated by Kathleen Ruiz, November 2 – December 22, 2002Elyn Zimmerman[/one_half]

CONSTELLATION Selects

CONSTELLATION SELECTS

August 10 – October 20, 2002

In honor of  CPW’s 25th anniversary & our mission to discover new talent, CPW invited five artists from Constellation to select the next generation of image-makers for this concurrent show, Constellation Selects.

As it is our mission to discover new talent, artists from Constellation were invited to select an up and coming artist in the field to be featured in a parallel exhibition Constellation Selects which will be displayed concurrently in the Kodak Gallery.

The artists included are Cathy Spence (selected by Keith Carter), Skowman Hastanan (selected by Nina Kuo), Jodie Jacobson (selected by Andrea Modica), Bart Michaels (selected by George Holz), Miwa Nishio (selected by Joyce Tenneson),  Camille Solyagua (selected by Ruth Bernhard), and Paul Taggart (selected by Christopher James).

[one_third first]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Skowman Hastanan[/one_third] [one_third]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Jodie Jacobson[/one_third] [one_third]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Bart Michaels[/one_third] [one_third first]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Miwa Nishio[/one_third] [one_third]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Camille Solyagua[/one_third] [one_third]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Cathy Spence[/one_third] [one_third first]"Constellation Selects" on view from August 10 - October 20, 2002Paul Taggart[/one_third][hr]

Constellation

CONSTELLATION

Celebrating CPW’s First 25 Years

August 10 – October 20, 2002

2002 marks the 25th anniversary of the Center for Photography at Woodstock! The history of CPW is not a timeline, but a constellation of people, a circle of artists & audiences who have taken part in our offerings. Since our founding in 1977, this artist run not-for-profit has served well over 12,000 artists & audiences in the hundred thousands.

CPW’s offerings over the last 25 years illustrates not only the history of a dedicated artists’ organization, but spans a quarter of a century of the best of creative photography in the international field. In celebration we will host an anniversary exhibition titled Constellation. The show will highlight some of the most vibrant artists working today who have taught, exhibited, & participated in CPW programs over the last quarter of a century. The artists you’ll see may have had one of their first solo shows here, been awarded a CPW Photographer’s Fellowship grant, taught a workshop, received an artist residency, or been published in our journal, PHOTOGRAPHY Quarterly…. since then they’ve gone on to become some of the stars in the national creative community. Participating artists include Ruth Bernhard, Keith Carter, Debbie Fleming Caffery, Kenro Izu, Nina Kuo, Derek Johnston, Phyllis Galembo, George Holz, Gail LeBoff, Christopher James, Eric Lindbloom, Mary Ellen Mark, Luis Mallo, Andrea Modica, Stephen Marc, Lilo Raymond, Eikoh Hosoe, Stephen Shore, Joyce Tenneson, William Wegman, and more.

As it is our mission to discover new talent, artists from Constellation were invited to select an up and coming artist in the field to be featured in a parallel exhibition Constellation Selects, which will be displayed concurrently in the Kodak Gallery. Artists included are Cathy Spence (Keith Carter), Skowman Hastanan (Nina Kuo), Camille Solyagua (Ruth Bernhard), Miwa Nishio (Joyce Tenneson), Paul Taggart (Christopher James), Jodie Jacobson (Andrea Modica), Bart Michaels (George Holz).

A fully illustrated Anniversary catalog will be published that features work by Constellation artists and articles about CPW’s history, Woodstock’s legacy as an artist’s colony, and an overview to two decades of contemporary creative photography. Contributors will include Sarah Morthland, Paul Smart, Colleen Kenyon, and CPW’s founder Howard Greenberg, among others.

[one_third first]JoJo Ans[/one_third] [one_third]Joan Barker[/one_third] [one_third]Ruth Bernhard[/one_third] [one_third first]Keith Carter[/one_third] [one_third]John Dugdale[/one_third] [one_third]Mary Ellen Mark[/one_third] [one_third first]Larry Fink[/one_third] [one_third]Debbie Fleming Caffery[/one_third] [one_third]Phyliss Galembo[/one_third] [one_third first]George Holz[/one_third] [one_third]Eikoh Hosoe[/one_third] [one_third]Kenro Izu[/one_third] [one_third first]Christopher James[/one_third] [one_third]Derek Johnston[/one_third] [one_third]John Kleinhans[/one_third] [one_third first]Nina Kuo[/one_third] [one_third]Elliott Landy[/one_third] [one_third]Gail LeBoff[/one_third] [one_third first]Eric Lindbloom[/one_third] [one_third]Luis Mallo[/one_third] [one_third]Stephen Marc[/one_third] [one_third first]Dan McCormack[/one_third] [one_third]Sheila Metzner[/one_third] [one_third]Andrea Modica[/one_third] [one_third first]Vik Muniz[/one_third] [one_third]Lilo Raymond[/one_third] [one_third]Ernestine Ruben[/one_third] [one_third first]Josephine Sacabo[/one_third] [one_third]Stephen Shore[/one_third] [one_third]Joyce Tenneson[/one_third] [one_third first]William Wegman[/one_third] [one_third]Susan Wides[/one_third]

Invisible Cities

INVISIBLE CITIES

curated by Kate Menconeri

June 1 – July 28, 2002

How do we construct, re-create, and unify a past that is simultaneously now? Inspired by the Italo Calvino novel of the same title, the artists in Invisible Cities, coming from the U.S., Canada, and South America, delve into the slippery territory of memory with visual tools, layers, and creativity. They explore how the past can shape our understanding of self, history, culture, the present, and how memory can shift and change quite readily, dissolving into pure imagination and re-vision.

 Magicians indeed, they reveal new ways to think about and visualize that which we carry within but cannot see with the naked eye. If photography is said to endorse the existence of things, this work ironically validates that which cannot be seen, but also calls into question the veracity of the photograph itself and explores our ever changing perceptions of what was, what should have been, and what is.

In Italo Calvino’s novel, Invisible Cities, the young explorer, Marco Polo, is commissioned by the emperor, Kublai Khan to tell him of the cities within his empire. Each story takes us to diverse and vast lands – each one different, each with its own jewel. Soon Kublai realizes that each of these places are in fact the same place – and he begins to question if they even exist at all. I’ve often thought of memory as a fluid part of perception. Places existed in my mind before I had ever actually been there and once I did in fact visit – the places I had imagined continued to exist on their own – while one informed the identity of the other, the new perception became a different place – and both remain embedded in my mind, existing simultaneously on their own. Each piece of information about a place recalled to the emperor’s mind that first gesture or object which Marco designated the place. The new fact received a meaning from that emblem and also added to the emblem a new meaning. Perhaps, Kublai thought, the empire is nothing but a zodiac of the mind’s phantasms. – Calvino, Invisible Cities

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The past is mediated by memory on all levels – personal, historical, collective, and cultural. And memory is a silent but all encompassing presence, informing our decisions and perceptions, and propelling us forward each moment. One has to begin to lose memory, even small fragments of it, to realize that memory is what our entire life is made of. A life without memory wouldn’t be life, just as intelligence without means of expression wouldn’t be intelligence. Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our action, our feeling. Without it we are nothing. – Luis Bunnel, My Last Sigh

Like Marco’s “discovered” cities, the past is simultaneously unreachable and ever present. While the facts of the past are fixed, memory changes with the filters of time, distance, new experience, knowledge, and desire. It easily shifts, dissolves, and reasserts a new story. We begin to remember things differently and we may have no idea of what has already been forgotten. The past is by nature invisible outside of ones own perceptions – an invisible field – a city – and only in the present does the past (or future) actually exist. As in some of the chapter titles in Cities, signs and our own desires can again alter and reposition the past. Memory becomes both real and imagined. The place that I had re-built in the shadows had gone to rejoin the places glimpsed in the swirls of awakening, set to flight by that pale sign the fingers of the rising day had traced above the curtains. – Marcel Proust, Silent Heights of Memory, Combray, Remembrance of Things Past.

Someone might dream that remembering and forgetting can be acts of will, rather than aggressions or gifts of chance. – Jorge Luis Borges. Memories may exist for some great episode in life – a first kiss, but it is also the corner we passed yesterday, the grocery list we try to remember once we reach the store. Borges wrote, while forgetting purifies, … memory chooses and rediscovers. What we bring forward is sometimes a matter of choice – but often we cannot escape the experiences we’ve had or the stories and events that continue to shape our perceptions today. I am every instant of my lengthy time, every night of scrupulous insomnia, every parting and every night before. I am the faulty memory of an engraving that’s still here in the room and that my eyes, now darkened, once saw clearly. – Borges

Employing photographic based tools to explore this elusive terrain both parallels and questions our historical understandings of photography as the documentation and authentication of what is real. One day I received from a photographer a picture of myself… because it was a photograph I could not deny that I had been there. – Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida. Photographs are said to capture a moment in time forever, preserving the past for as long as the image remains – they are our only “real” visual evidence. The power of photographs thus to trigger memory is widely felt, and often used in media and advertising to prey on our emotions.

Have you ever found an old box of letters and photographs or a diary that once you picked up you couldn’t put down because it completely and blindly transported you to another time in your life – to the people you no longer know and the places you will never again go? Keisha Scarville delves into her past with personally charged objects and narratives. What might appear to have generic or little meaning – a toothpick, a shoelace – carries the force of her past and brings her life lessons forward. Oscar Muñoz shows us the fleeting faces of those lost in historical/political tragedy. In this work you see only yourself until you breath onto the plates, reclaiming the past and thus the importance of remembering. Terry Boddie metaphorically combines personal and cultural symbols, exploring the relationships between knowledge and history and their own regenerative possibilities. Terry’s layers of information, from the portrait of his sisters – (taken annually) to the symbols drawn in mourning – all speak of the passage of time, birth, rebirth, death, and reincarnation. Shauna Frischkorn freezes the duration of the commonplace – where nothing may have actually happened – and shows us absence as the subject itself. While some of the work in the exhibition does in fact trigger memory, it reveals more about how the past shapes the present now.

The past is not always employed to relive or remember, but to reconstruct a dialogue about the now. James Fee juxtaposes his Father’s documentary pictures of Peleliu Island in 1944 with his own current images of the same place not to revisit the past but to better understand his present. Fee’s large color scenes, uncluttered and empty of specifics reveal a present that is molded by absence, inheritance, and imagination. Gayle Tanaka examines issues of appearance and the intersections of time, culture, personal history, and the construction of memory. In her multi-media work, each informs the other, exposing how her identity continues to be shaped by her inheritance.

While painting can feign reality without having seen it, in photography I can never deny that the thing has been there… Photography’s “noeme” [essence] will therefore be “that-has-been”. [which does not mean that which was] – Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida. But while thought to be real, photographs, mirroring memory, can be harnessed to alter the facts, deceive, invent, recreate, and fantasize, and are not necessarily referential to any real event or time. Unseen images of the mind are revealed by the transformative power of the medium and the imagination. What P. E. Sharpe literally shows us is not in fact the item she references in her titles, but that which metaphorically transports us to an unseen past, where the very real visual of absence triggers memory. Gerald Slota’s disturbing and ambiguous scenes of childhood and family reveal something a bit more menacing than the ordinary. Based not in the facts of the past but in the imagination, these deeply layered and marred images may suggest an elusive and unreachable past. His processes mimic the way in which we can distance and separate ourselves from the facts and the past, and while this work is in fact not based in any literal space or time, and is not about memory, it may indeed trigger powerful emotions, fears, and recollections. Carol Golemboski, too, uses visual tools to create a more psychological plane for the objects she pictures.  As found objects, the stories she tells are not based on a known or real history, but her own imaginative associations and a response to the energy these mysterious objects resonate. She takes us into the future and reminds us of a sense of melancholy… and a mounting dread that comes with the realization that our own stories will suffer the same fate. In Robert Flynt’s intimate portraits the past and present co-exist and communicate. The found photograph and the artists’ invented image create a jangling dialogue unbound by time, touching upon sensuality and the temporal body, loss, relationships, and our infinite place within the cosmos.

In exploring themes of memory and past and present in their artwork, the artists featured are not looking to “capture moments” to preserve for all time. This work transcends time, creating a dialog about the present and what exists within the invisible cities that surround us. The unseen is seen, the past meets present, and fact meets fiction.

-Kate Menconeri, 2002

… A Man sets himself the task of portraying the world. Through the years he propels a space with images of provinces, kingdoms, mountains, bays, ships, islands, fishes, rooms, instruments, stars, horses, and people. Shortly, before his death, he discovers that the patient labyrinth of lines traces the image of his face. – Jorge Luis Borges

[one_half first]Terry Boddie[/one_half][one_half]James Fee[/one_half] [one_half first]Robert Flynt[/one_half] [one_half]Shauna Frischkorn[/one_half] [one_half first]Carol Golemboski[/one_half] [one_half]Oscar Muňoz[/one_half] [one_half first]Keisha Scarville[/one_half] [one_half]Gerald Slota[/one_half] [one_half first] P. Elaine Sharpe[/one_half] [one_half]Gayle Tanaka[/one_half]

A. LEO NASH

A. Leo Nash

TEMPORARY AUTONOMOUS ZONES

June 1 – July 28, 2002

For the past ten years I have been photographing a large array of alternative gatherings and celebrations around the United States.

Inspired by the natural light and fervor of these temporary encampments, I use my camera to forge a new perspective on the world of the participants and these temporary villages, which have become known as “temporary autonomous zones”.

The largest gathering, the Burning Man Festival, has attracted worldwide attention. While the media tends to only show the most sensationalistic side of the festivals – nudity, burning artwork, and the four story structure that is “Burning Man” – I look to reveal a community and a landscape where liberation from such media and the value of self expression take center stage. It’s a place where everyone is encouraged to be a participant, rather than a spectator.

Joseph Campbell, the noted mythology scholar and writer, talked about there being a new mythology emerging on the planet that he couldn’t yet grasp. The participant oriented gatherings depicted in this project give a glimpse at the form these mythologies are taking during their gestation. Myth and ritual play an important role, and celebrations are researched and given life, as many of the participants seek new ways to reconnect with a spiritual essence.

A. Leo Nash grew up in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. He spent his childhood in and around the steel fabricating plant that was owned and operated by his father and Uncle.After graduating from high school, Leo continued a life long passion for traveling while he attended Calrk University and Rochester Institstute of Technology. During a year off from school in 1984 her began exploring the American West and worked in Yellowstone National Park and big Sky, Montana as a cook and in San Francisco as a bike messenger. Bitten by the photography bug early on, he naturally took his camera.

In 1990 Leo moved to the West coast and began to document the alternative rituals and gatherings of the underground culture that had been flourishing in San Francisco since the 1950s. He pursued his fascination with the physiology of human relations by studying at both Berkeley Psychic Institute and the Aesclepion Healing Center in San Rafael, California.

Nash began showing his photographs professionally in 1991 and has since had exhibitions of his work at venues including the Oakland Museum, the Houston Center for Photography, the Philadelphia Print Center, the Silver Eye Gallery (Pittsburg, PA), Blue Sky Gallery (Portland,OR), and the SOMAR Cultural Center (San Francisco, CA). His photographs are in the collections of the Harry Ransom Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Art Institute; and have been published in Contact Sheet, Photo Metro, the Photo Review, SPIN, the Village Voice, San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Boston Globe, and Boston Phoenix. Nash has been an artist in residence at Light Work in Syracuse, NY. A. Leo Nash lives and works in West Oakland, where he makes a living as a chief lighting designer in the Bay area film industry.

aleonash.com

KIRIKO SHIROBAYASHI

Kiriko Shirobayashi

COLLECTED MOMENTS

March 23 – May 19 2002

We should find perfect existence through imperfect existence. – Suzuki

I collect. I collect visuals like some collect objects. Except for me they are not objects. They are moments. Moments that I must have. Always. With me. It is my collection of personal moments that I respond to. It is an obsession. I must possess them. These moments are in my heart, but I need to be able to take them out. To look. To know they are with me. The good moments in my life. Lost friends. Memories of happiness. There are no issues in the images. They are emotional and all of them are portraits of myself, being part of myself. It is my diary. A place I can go back to when I want to look back. Nothing is written but they speak to me and make more sense than any other words or sentences. It is a lifelong project. But I love to collect. Moments that matter to me. Moments that make me smile. Laugh. Cry. Remember who I am and where I cam from. Collected Moments is a life-long project. As my life changes so does the installation.

Kiriko Shirobayashi received BFA in photography from Osaka University of Art in Japan and moved to the United States in 1995 where she completed her MFA at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. A resident of NYC, Kiriko has shown at the Paula Cooper Gallery in NYC, Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington, SOHO Photo Gallery in NYC, and the Sara Nightingale Gallery in Bridgehampton, NY. She was recently an artist-in-residence at the Kala Institute in Berkeley California.

kirikoshirobayashi.com

Beyond Words – Photography Now

BEYOND WORDS

PHOTOGRAPHY NOW 2002

juried by Debra Singer

March 23 – May 19, 2002

This winter the Center sent out an international call to photographers posing the question – If the unthinkable, the unknowable happens, what do you – as a photographer – do?

How does a major event (personal, social, collective, national, global) change your life, your family, and your world? And how do you show that visually? How do we come together – in our home, in our community, in America, and in our world? How do you visualize your fears and your hopes?

Juror Debra Singer selected nine artists who connect in diverse ways to the healing power of art and the creative process. Through picture making these photographers illuminate pathways that address with compassion and experience issues we wish we could ignore but can’t. They confront sorrow, loss, life changes, and an uncertain world. They remind us of our fragile existence and of our humanity.

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Maureen Beitler celebrates the ephemeral nature of life and shows us beauty and magic in what may seem another mundane ritual of daily life. Sonia Targontsidis’ meditative color images reveal subtle gestures and expressions that remind us of our humanity, possibility and transience. Anne Savedge reveals a new place through distortions to evoke personal meaning. Jean Collier Hurley, a breast cancer survivor, links her experience with the demolition of a 38-year-old church in San Francisco. By memorializing the destruction of the sacred parish home, Hurley hopes to find herself and others strength in what remains behind and presents a visual metaphor for the battle she won. Patricia Richards learned from her father to look for the opportunity in every difficult situation. Her photographs chronicle, with poignant sorrow, the passing of this man, and looks for a door to go forward from here.

Gregory Van De Rostyne explores the creative process as a way to search for his origins. Michael Marshall juggled science and art until he became aware that art provided a road to understanding. His images document what he has discovered and what he still questions. Jackie Clark transformed shock, confusion, and the need to put things “back in place” by making pictures. After the heartbreaking events of September 11th she united with fellow on-lookers at the site where the twin towers once stood and documented the face of sorrow and loss. Bruce Sheftel, responding to the tragedy on September 11, 2001, shows us the magnitude of the tragedy unfolding as seen on the television by observers in a local waiting room at the Philadelphia hospital.

How has the world changed since 9/11? Since last spring? Since last week? Many people now talk of the world as “pre” and “post” 9/11 as if it is an entirely different place. There are things happening every day that catapult our lives – without notice, without warning. In only an instant all we know may change – with a word, a look, a hope – for better or for worse. This hasn’t changed – and we carry on – the best we know how.

Does art meditate challenging times?

How do you channel your own energy to focus on the positive when your world is turned upside down?

What guides your forward?

[one_half first]Maureen Beitler[/one_half] [one_half]Jackie Clark[/one_half] [one_half first]Jean Collier Hurley[/one_half] [one_half] Michael Marshall[/one_half] [one_half first]Patricia Richards[/one_half] [one_half]Anne Savedge[/one_half] [one_half first]Bruce Sheftel[/one_half] [one_half]Sonia Targontsids[/one_half] [one_half first]Gregory Van De Rostyne[/one_half]

Presenting/Receiving: Subjecting Photography

PRESENTING/RECEIVING: SUBJECTING PHOTOGRAPHY

curated by Ariel Shanberg

January 12 – March 10, 2002

Perhaps no other medium influences our lives, inspires our dreams, and informs us on a daily basis as greatly as photography does.

The artists in Presenting/Receiving: Subjecting Photography draw our attention to both the power and limitations of photography; exploring the dichotomy between the ways our imaginations empower the image and how the photograph triggers our minds. By using found photographs, creating constructed images, and putting the photograph in the spotlight, they allow us to meditate on the photograph as an object, a tool, and an art form.

– Ariel Shanberg, 2002

 

[one_half first]"Presenting/Receiving: Subjecting Photography", curated by Ariel Shanberg, January 12 - March 10, 2002Damali Ayo[/one_half] [one_half]"Presenting/Receiving: Subjecting Photography", curated by Ariel Shanberg, January 12 - March 10, 2002Laura Carton[/one_half] [one_half first]"Presenting/Receiving: Subjecting Photography", curated by Ariel Shanberg, January 12 - March 10, 2002 Pamela Elliss Hawkes[/one_half] [one_half]"Presenting/Receiving: Subjecting Photography", curated by Ariel Shanberg, January 12 - March 10, 2002Peter Hendrick[/one_half] [one_half first]"Presenting/Receiving: Subjecting Photography", curated by Ariel Shanberg, January 12 - March 10, 2002 Nikki S. Lee[/one_half] [one_half]"Presenting/Receiving: Subjecting Photography", curated by Ariel Shanberg, January 12 - March 10, 2002 Annu Palakunnathu Matthew[/one_half] [one_half first]"Presenting/Receiving: Subjecting Photography", curated by Ariel Shanberg, January 12 - March 10, 2002 Zoë Sheehan Saldaña[/one_half] [one_half]"Presenting/Receiving: Subjecting Photography", curated by Ariel Shanberg, January 12 - March 10, 2002 Judith Selby[/one_half]