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PHOTOGRAPHY NOW 2016

April 30 – June 19, 2016
Gallery Opening: Saturday, April 30, 5-7pm

Juried by James Estrin

Featured Artists: Aisha Jemila Daniels, Hernease Davis, Jess T. Dugan, Odette England, Bin Feng, Angela Jimenez, Elise Kirk, Amiko Li, Liz Obert, Carlos Saavedra, and Margeaux Walter

Press release →

Photography now? There is no dominant approach to photography today. Artists use many different techniques and distribute their images in a myriad of manners.

The exhibit “Photography Now” is a juried show — 11 photographers were chosen from almost 500 entries. The images that I was most attracted to address issues surrounding identity and representation. The photographers in this exhibit grapple with questions about how race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, brain chemistry and even our own memories shape how we see ourselves and how others see us.

They have sidestepped simplistic ideas and the limited visual imagery often used in their areas of interest and instead challenge the cliché-ridden view of the world where some peoples are treated as symbols and rarely seen as fully rounded human beings.

These photographers employ techniques from photograms to fictional staging, from documentary approaches to self portraiture, but they are all exploring what it means to be human, and how we form our sense of self in relation to how society defines us. For me what ties these photographers together is that they are fully immersed in the search for meaning in their lives. There is little distance, and no cynicism in their work.

Since the invention of roll film, photography has been a folk art open to all who could afford a camera. Today, photographers often distribute, market and publish their own work with little concern for curators, photo editors or book publishers. The weakening of the gatekeepers, who had previously defined the photographic canon, has allowed a more diverse group of artists to find audiences — more people of color, more women, more artists who identify as LGBTQ. This trend, on display in this exhibit, is worth celebrating.

As photography approaches the end of its second century, there are also lessons to be learned from its early years. In the 1800s photography was singular. It was rarely divided between vernacular, art, and documentary.

What should be important in photography now, is what people have to say, and how well they state it, not artificial distinctions or market definitions of worth as opposed to what is truly of value.

— James Estrin

James Estrin is a senior staff photographer for The New York Times. He is also a founder of Lens, the Times’s photography blog. Estrin and David Gonzalez are the co-editors of Lens. Estrin has worked for The Times since 1987 and was part of a Pulitzer Prize winning team in 2001. In addition to photographing, editing and writing, he produces audio and video for nytimes.com. Estrin is an adjunct professor at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism and also teaches at the School of Visual Arts Digital Photography Masters program. He attended Hampshire College and the graduate program at the International Center of Photography.

 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

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Afrikans is an extensive photographic project that documents indigenous black people of African descent throughout the African continent and her diaspora. Aisha Jemila Daniels aims to instill self-love and pride within Afrikan culture by counteracting westernization, loss of Afrikan identity and the consequent exploitation of Afrikan culture.

Hernease Davis’ ongoing project A Womb of My Own (Mistakes Were Made in Development) combines analog photographic processes with performance to create images that emphasize self-care through artistic process. She uses self-portraits to reflect meditation, anger, and rest in response to the June 17th massacre of a prayer group at the historic Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. Church. www.herneasedavis.com

In the series Every Breath We Drew, Jess T. Dugan explores the power of identity, desire, and connection. The portraits of herself and others examine the intersection between private and individual identity, and the search for intimate connection with others. Dugan works within the framework of her queer experience and a constructed sense of masculinity, while showing the reflection of self as the ultimate intimate connection. www.jessdugan.com (courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery)

The series Excavations by Odette England explores the invisible social space of familial storytelling through photographs that connect these stories over time, much like the processing and recording of remains within an archaeological excavation. England examines how the narratives of a family continue to be repeated, reinterpreted, and blurred by using the artistic process of lightly hand-sanding each photograph. www.odetteengland.com (courtesy of KlompChing Gallery)

Bin Feng’s series The American Dream explores the idea of the American Dream from an eastern male gaze through the use of iconic elements such as the archetypical white picket fence. The subject of each photograph is portrayed in various activities of daily life in order to convey a subtle bicultural shock. www.postmoba.org

Racing Age is a documentary series about master’s track and field athletes, who are retired and in their seventies or older. Angela Jimenez’s images defy visual stereotypes by showing these athletes as fierce and competitive. Their fully capable human bodies perform athletic feats that would have seemed impossible only a decade ago. http://www.angelajimenezphotography.com

Elise Kirk’s series Mid— explores a personal and cultural tension between rootedness and restlessness, and the space between movement and stasis set against a backdrop of her native Midwest. Her work is rooted in the belief that our greatest hopes and potentials would be realized, if we could just move to another place in some different time. www.elisekirk.com

Amiko Li‘s project Maiden Voyage experiments with highly romanticized and idealized imagery as inspired by the depiction of reserved, quiet, and flawless women in Japanese manga. He uses his photographs to explore the ideal of femininity by posing as vulnerable and powerless in self-portraits. www.amikoli.com

As an artist who suffers from bipolar disorder herself, Liz Obert exposes the hidden diseases of depression and bi-polar disorder. Her project Dualities offers the viewer a glimpse into the internal and external lives of her subjects in the hopes that it will create an understanding of these diseases.  www.lizobert.com

Carlos Saavedra‘s project The Earth Mothers is based on a group of women called “The Mothers of Soacha,” who denounced the disappearance and death of their children after the Colombian Army had denounced them as guerillas. His images depict the women covered in earth, suspended in another medium and another world as a symbol of the interconnectedness of all life. www.saavedravisual.com

Sign Language uses photography as a means of understanding and reckoning with a world flooded with images. Margeaux Walter creates photographs that explore how identity exists in a state of flux, rather than static or fixed. The series investigates new ways to reconcile identity with the constant bombardment of consumer culture, advertising and images. www.margeauxwalter.com

 

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE AND LOCATIONS
Photography Now 2016 will be on view from Saturday, April 30, 2016, through Sunday, June 19, 2016. CPW galleries are free & open to the public Wednesday – Sunday, 12pm – 5pm and by appointment. CPW is located at 59 Tinker Street, Woodstock, New York 12498.

Image Credit: Bin Feng, The American Dream – Starring Jackie Chan and John Cusack, Dragon Blade 3D IMAX will be released in February 2015, 2015 (detail) from the series The American Dream, digital c-print, 40×60”