Myra Greene

Character Recognition

JUNE 13 – JULY 26, 2009

Confronted with an up swell of bigotry both personal and public (the rhetoric surrounding Katrina) I was forced to ask myself, what do people see when they look at me.

Am I nothing but black? Is that skin tone enough to describe my nature and expectation in life? Do my strong teeth make me a strong worker? Does my character resonate louder than my skin tone? Using a process linked to the times of ethnographic classification, I repeatedly explore my ethnic features.

Always fascinated by historical processes, I wanted to learn how to make wet-plate Collodion. This process, which is coated onto black glass was popular from the 1850s through the 1880s creates a singular unique image. The glass is first coated with a thin layer of Collodion, and then sensitized in a silver bath. While still wet, the glass is exposed using a large format camera. The plate is then developed and then fixed. When I applied this old process to my interest in the black body and self, the imagery described my body in a way never imagined.

Tainted with the visual history of American slavery, these images point directly to the features of race. Thick lips and nose, and darken skinned; these contemporary studies link the view to a complicated historical past. While the process of wet plate codes the body in this work, the body is able to speak back. Through small facial gestures the body reacts and rejects to these modes and ways of classification.

Throughout much of her work, Myra Greene melds such processes as photography, printmaking, sound, as well as digital production work in order to exploring issues about the body, memory, and the absorption of culture and the ever shifting identity of African Americans.

Greene’s work has been exhibited widely including recent solo shows at such venues as Harnett Gallery, Rochester, NY; Harold B. Lemmerman Gallery, Jersey City, NJ; and Maryland Art Place, Baltimore, MD as well as group shows at Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; Umbrella Arts Gallery, New York, NY; El Taller Boricua Gallery, Bronx, NY; and The Art Institute of Colorado, Denver, CO among many others.

She has received many awards throughout her career and most recently was awarded the Illinois Arts Council Photography Fellowship in 2009. Greene has been an Artist in Residence at Light Work in Syracuse in 2004 and the Center of Photography at Woodstock in 2003. Her work has been featured in the pages of such publications as The International Review of African American Art, Prompt Magazine, Nueva Luz, Exposure, and CPW’s publication PQ.

Myra Greene received her MFA in Photography from the University of New Mexico in 2002 and her BFA from Washington University in St. Louis, MI. She currently lives and works in Chicago, IL, where she is an Assistant Professor in the Photography Department at Columbia College Chicago.

Installation view of "Anthology of Trends", April 11 - May 24, 2009

Tarrah Krajnak & Wilka Roig

Anthology of Trends

April 11 – May 24, 2009

(untitled #) is our  first collaborative project.

It began as a response to a critique of our independent work given by an influential artist/critic/curator based in NYC. During separate studio visits we each received the same response: “As with most women who turn the camera on themselves, the work is overburdened with emotion.” This critique sent us on a search for our place as artists and individuals within the art world and within photographic history. What was originally a visual investigation became “(untitled #)“.

“(untitled # )” is composed of several interrelated series: “Hysteria Collection”, “Pose Archive”, “Anthology of Trends”, “Personal Catalogue”, “Studies of Light and Form”, “Cast of Characters”, “Referential Index”, and “Aftermath”. Each segment of this project is a layer that further uncovers its meaning. The project is rooted in the language of the archive and the dialectic of performance. We enact and record a deconstructive visual analysis, shifting our scrutiny from art institution to artist to art object to audience. Through our performances we offer a perspective from each of these positions as well as the opportunity to reconsider them. We expose the rhetoric underlying representational strategies and question their relationship to history and contemporary culture. We invite the viewer to assess, not merely consume, the motifs recurring in contemporary art, its framework, and its presentation.

In “Hysteria Collection” we look back to the beginnings of the representation of women, to the constructed documentation of the sick Victorian woman.  This simulated hysterical condition and the constructed image of the sickly woman was devised to prove an invented feminine affliction. We perform the hysterical body drawn from its historical context and place it in a contemporary context to resurface the historical reference as well as uncover the formulas that yield the recurring contemporary images of women.

In “Anthology of Trends” we perform the contemporary trends we find in the representation of women by other women, and we exchange roles as photographer and model.  We present each trend in diptychs, with each of us being model in turn to prevent the viewer from consuming the image at face value. This doubling creates a literal double-take and encourages the viewer to think twice about the conditions and the context in which the woman’s body is positioned and presented beyond the traditional aesthetics of light and form.

In “Light and Form”, inspired by technical trends and camera user manuals of the 1970’s and 1980’s, we consider trends of photographic technique that have been used throughout photographic history as justification for, or distraction from, the objectified representation of women by men. In donning the unitard, we seek to neutralize the female form as a point of sexual desire. Employing Photoshop, we mimic the visual styling of images from this period including soft focus, hand coloring, airbrush, and the application of Vaseline around the edges.

As “collaborative / women / minority” artists, we continuously explore the sameness and difference within the construct of identity, and the role and meaning of signifiers. We work with self-portraiture addressing issues of gender, body, and representation within various sociological contexts, engaged in the process of photography as performance. We investigate the role and identity of the artist, and that of photography, within the socio-cultural context and the art world.

Tarrah Krajnak was born in Lima, Peru.  Adopted by Czech-American parents, she grew up in Ohio. In 2004, Tarrah received an MFA in Photography from the University of Notre Dame, and she is now based in Winooski, Vermont, where she teaches Photography in the Art Department at the University of Vermont, Burlington. Wilka Roig was born and raised in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. She moved to Ithaca, New York in 1995 and received her MFA in Photography from Cornell University in 2005. Wilka still lives in Ithaca, where she teaches Photography in the Department of Art at Cornell University.

Collaboratively, they have exhibited nationally at such venues as The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; San Francisco Camerawork; the Pingyao International Photography Festival, China; and at the galleries at Johnson State College in VT, the University of Toledo in OH, Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK.  In 2008, they were recipients of artists grants from the Vermont Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Cornell Council for the Arts. Tarrah and Wilka were artists-in residence at CPW in 2008.

Phillip Toledano

America the Giftshop

January 24 – March 29, 2009

If American foreign policy had a gift shop, what would it sell?

AMERICA THE GIFT SHOP is an installation project that reflects the current foreign policy in the fun-house mirror of American commerce.

My palette is the vernacular of retail tourism. The more familiar it is, the better host it becomes for the idea. Once the sugar coating of the ordinary dissolves, we are left with the grim truth about where we’ve been as a nation.
We buy souvenirs at the end of a trip, to remind ourselves of the experience.

What do we have to remind us of the events of the last eight years?

We have all seen a disfigurement of the things that made America more than a country, but an idea. Even now, in our joy at the prospect of new and hopeful beginning, we need to remember the past. It’s the only way this little experiment in democracy will evolve.

– Phillip Toledano, 2009

Phillip Toledano’s work has been exhibited in New York, Europe, and Asia including solo shows at Colette and Annina Nosei Gallery in NYC and group shows at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, California; the Photobiennale of Thessaloniki, Greece; and Miami Art Space. Two monographs of his work have been published: Bankrupt: Photographs of Recently Vacated Offices (Twin Palms, 2005) and Phone Sex (Twin Palms, 2008). A third, Days with My Father, will be published in 2009. Toledano’s photography has appeared on the pages of such publications as The New York Times Magazine, Interview, Vanity Fair, Le Monde, The London Times, Details, GQ and Esquire. Born and raised in London, Toledano is the son of a French-Moroccan mother and an American Father. He is a graduate of Tufts University in Massachusetts. He currently lives and works in NYC.


curated by Akemi Hiatt

January 12 – March 31, 2013

Press Release →

View the exhibition’s blog →

The exhibition The Web is a Lonely Place, Come Play brings together five artists who produce work within or through the radically democratized “free space” of the web. Through video, performance, photo-based imagery, interactive installation, appropriation, and animations, each artist explores the web as both seductive virtual playground and subversive artistic studio.

The tone of the work in the show oscillates between vulnerability and openness, the private and the public, and the outdated and cutting-edge. Cumulatively, the work probes at the tension inherent in our overwhelming embrace of new media as well our growing awareness of its influence on our culture. Playing to our increasing love of slick, modern technology, the works absorb, enthrall, and inspire as much as they evoke feelings of apprehension or skepticism.

The online realm has provided untapped potential for new creative and conceptual strategies rooted in the movement of Internet art. We can think of Internet art (sometimes called net art, web art, or networked art) as any form of digital artwork created or distributed via the Internet. In many cases, these works circumvent the traditional dominance of the gallery and museum system, drawing upon widely available technologies to reach their audiences. This form of art is often interactive, either directly engaging the viewer/consumer or born out of a creative process that can involve crowd-sourcing and the remixing or re-appropriation of images, video, and text (1).

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Putting New Media Art in the White Box
Many of the pieces in the exhibition do not relate to boundaries existing in the physical realm, nor do they relate to ideas of permanence and preciousness invoked by fine-art as it is shown in galleries or museums. The presentation of web art in galleries or museums poses questions about the fraught relationship between art and commerce, and whether or not that is preserved online. Two of the artists in the exhibition happen to be at the forefront of innovative approaches to the sale of web-based pieces – Petra Cortright by publishing a website in which the monetary value of her videos is determined by an algorithm based on the number of YouTube video views, and Rafaël Rozendaal by transferring domain names to collectors and including their names on the title of the webpage, much as you would credit a public sculpture.

Layers of the Self – A Conscious Performance
The prevalence and power of social networks has made us adept in the art of self-presentation. Personas formed online may be distinct from our ‘real’ identities, as relationships and expectations are increasingly mediated online. Although the public nature of the video work by Petra Cortright and Christopher Baker is in some ways mandated by their chosen medium and artistic process, each artist actively engages themes of voyeurism and the possibilities and pitfalls of self-presentation via the web.

Baker’s immersive installation Hello World! or: How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Noise is a video wall comprised of nearly 1,200 video diaries found on the internet. These individuals confide in a potentially massive but imagined audience, with the project addressing the fundamental human desire to be heard. The vulnerability of Baker’s subjects are counter to Cortright’s oddly addictive short films, which mine the territory of webcam performance, clip art, computer graphics, and animated .gifs. Her unabashed performances for the camera along with her physical appearance, invite a kind of voyeurism and allow the films to occupy a space between banality and glamour.

The (Re)Appropriation of Images
Nearly all of works in The Web is a Lonely Place, Come Play reference technologies that we interface with on a daily basis, ranging from stock photography, Google Maps, YouTube, and video games. These tools, some of which might be pegged as “low-brow” are open to the recurring criticisms identified by curator, scholar, and historian Christiane Paul that new media art faces: ‘it’s all about technology’; ‘it doesn’t work’; ‘it belongs in a science museum’; ‘I work on a computer all day – I don’t want to see art on it in my free time’; “I want to look at art – not interact with it’; ‘where are the special effects?’ (2)

Yet, these tools are also being deployed in new and exciting ways – mined for their glitches and unintended possibilities and used to explore new artistic ground.

While Baker employs commonly used platforms like YouTube and Cortright revels in the “low-tech” world of computer graphics, an ongoing project by Jon Rafman entitled 9-eyes began as a Tumblr blog populated with screen-grabs from Google Maps. Collected from the perspective of a street photographer (albeit one who never needs to leave his desk), the scenes are by turns poignant, funny, odd, and terrifying. Some evoke the stark landscapes of FSA photographers (3) or the New Topographics school (4), others seek out surreal moments (such as a tiger strolling across a suburban parking lot), point to errors in Google’s facial-blur technology, or are witness to criminal activity. Most speak to the tension between what is private and what is public, as Rafman freely sources his images and presents them as his own, doubling back both on Google’s intentions as well as that of the individuals photographed.

Also interested in usurping the prescribed uses of daily objects is Kate Steciw, who makes artworks referenced by consumerism and the overabundance of photographs. Her job as a commercial retoucher serves as source material for her manipulated images and photo-based sculptures, in which stock imagery and the capabilities of Photoshop are melded, twisted, and turned, yet outputted as physical objects. Similar to Rafaël Rozendaal, her work describes the emerging tensions of surface versus depth in the highly aesthetic realm of the digital.

An Audience of One…Million (The Virtual Studio)
Making art and existing in such a busy world can be a solitary task, with a single voice at risk of being subsumed by the buzz of a colossal audience. Few artists exemplify the values of web art as much as Rafaël Rozendaal, who employs the screen as a limitless pictorial space, where beauty, accessibility, interactivity, and simple but profound emotions can be explored, occasionally in the form of contained games. Spread out over a vast network of domain names, Rozendaal attracts an audience of over 31 million visits per year.

A nomadic and consistently busy figure, he has lived and worked internationally, opening up his laptop whenever he needs to work and sharing his thoughts and processes via his blog. Considering the historic understanding of the artists’ studio as type of permanent home and sanctuary where artwork is created and which curators, critics and the select few are encouraged to visit, the meaning of this place is significantly altered when all that is required to create and access art is a laptop and a reliable wireless connection. Viewing and being informed about art is more public than it would otherwise be, and pop culture reigns.

Rozendaal’s work is incredibly accessible – the animations invite basic gestures and responses yet rely on the viewer to participate, to come play, in order for the piece to be fully realized. Looping endlessly, they can have a hypnotic effect much like the internet itself. Indeed, his particular aesthetic and way of working is uniquely suited to the inherent qualities of the Internet, as Rozendaal’s work is rooted firmly in the ideal of the web as a free space. The seemingly simple nature of his work becoming its greatest strength when one considers how his content, chosen medium, and relationship to his audience seamlessly intertwine.

The Medium is the Message?
For these artists, and others who share similar practices, the creation of internet-based artwork and the surrounding discourse that molds it are naturally in constant flux, being open to the interconnectivity fueled by online communication and subject to the awesome speed with which new platforms, applications, and hardware is invented. How do web artists navigate this altered relationship to and the expectations of their audiences? Do they attempt a sense of distance that might perhaps be necessary for art-making or, like Baker, Cortright, Rafman, Steciw, and Rozendaal, do they necessarily see everyone and everything as a potential collaborator?

It’s clear that the zeitgeist of our time is marked by an increasing reliance on ( as well as enthusiasm for) modern technology. New forms of communication consciously and subconsciously frame our ways of interacting with each other and the world around us at an ever increasing pace. In considering the tidal wave of content generated by new media, Marshall McLuhan’s famed phrase “the medium is the message” (5) seems more relevant than ever before. As a result it is often difficult (but important) to consider that the technologies that we interface with on a daily basis can provide some sort of deeper understanding of contemporary human existence.

Rather than serving as an overarching survey of web-art today, The Web Is A Lonely Place, Come Play is a presentation of five artists whose practices are fully embedded in the values of this new aesthetic. As intuitive creators they use seemingly simple gestures and tools to explore an uncharted frontier not dissimilar from the ways in which a child uses play to make sense of the larger world – in this case, the limitless possibilities of the web. Yet as attuned cultural critics, adept at subverting the tools at their disposal and aware their social implications, they inform and inspire a closer engagement and understanding of this ever expanding online realm.

– Akemi Hiatt, January 2013

Akemi Hiatt is a photographic artist, arts administrator, and curator living and working in New York’s Hudson Valley. A graduate of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, her work has was most recently exhibited in “DIY: Photographers & Books” at the Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, OH) and “bookMARKS” presented by Light Work at the Society for Photographic Education Conference (Syracuse, NY). Her artist books are in the collections of the Indie Photobook Library (Washington, D.C.) and Booklet Library (Tokyo, Japan). Since Fall 2009, she has been the Program Associate at the Center for Photography at Woodstock (CPW) an artist-centered organization founded in 1977 where she works to implement CPW’s year-round program offerings, including exhibitions, artists workspace residencies, workshops, lectures, publication, fellowships, services for artists, and more. In addition to her work at CPW, Hiatt has reviewed portfolios at ICP’s annual Career Day, the Society for Photographic Education, the New England Portfolio Reviews and Bard College, among others. Previous curatorial projects at CPW include “To Feel Authentic”, “Becoming Muses” co-curated with Lindsay Stern, and “Surface Tension” co-curated with Ariel Shanberg.

1 According to Wikipedia, net art is influenced by artistic traditions that include Dadaism, Surrealism, Fluxus, performance art, digital, video and telematics art, among others. As the art form has developed, its historical context has been continually re-visited. Amsterdam-based critic Josephine Bosma defines Internet art as having “five generations”, where the first generation of artists did not work with the Internet proper, but with electronic interconnectivity – precursors to the Internet, such as fax, slow scan television and videotext. These earlier forms, defined more broadly as “networked art”, gave way under the spread of the desktop computer in the 1980s and the advent of the Web in the 1990s. The sheer openness of this new platform invited a much broader spectrum of artists to enter the field – artists who were completely independent from art institutions and often purposely at odds with institutional culture.

2 Christiane Paul, New Media in the White Cube and Beyond, 2008

3 The FSA (Farm Security Administration) is well known for the influence of their photography program which took place from 1935-1944 during the Great Depression. Photographers and writers were hired to report and document the struggles of rural America with the goal of “introducing America to Americans.” Many of the most famous Depression-era photographers were fostered by the FSA project, Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks among them.

4 New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape was an exhibition curated by William Jenkins at the George Eastman House in January 1975 which included works by Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Frank Gohlke, and Stephen Shore. The exhibition had a ripple effect on the whole medium and genre, not only in the USA, but in Europe too where generations of landscape photographers emulated and are still emulating the spirit and aesthetics of the exhibition. In his introduction to the catalogue, Jenkins defined the common denominator of the show as “a problem of style”, “stylistic anonymity”, an alleged absence of style, stating that “the pictures were stripped of any artistic frills and reduced to an essentially topographic state, conveying substantial amounts of visual information but eschewing entirely the aspects of beauty, emotion and opinion.” Rather, “rigorous purity, deadpan humor and a casual disregard for the importance of the images” prevailed.
5 “The medium is the message” is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. The phrase was introduced in his most widely known book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964.


Christopher Baker

Petra Cortright

     Jon Rafman

Rafaël Rozendaal

Kate Steciw




Site Seeing: Explorations of Landscapes

curated by Ariel Shanberg & Liz Unterman

January 24 – March 29, 2009

Recognizing the complex layers found within the everyday landscape, the 11 photographers and film makers featured in Site Seeing: Explorations of Landscape utilize a wide range of visual practices in order to unveil the sublime truths found beneath our feet and before our eyes.
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Historically, artistic representations of the Landscape has been a canvas for the given society’s projection of its values and aspirations, its expansionist dreams and romanticized connections with the natural world. In the 20th Century, such photographers such as Ansel Adams utilized their work to advocate for a stronger connection and greater protection of our cherished environment. Others such as 19th Century photographers, Timothy O’Sullivan and William Henry Jackson created images that celebrated nature’s beauty while instilling Western Society’s notion of natural order. These forbearers and others like them (and many today) utilized the medium of photography as a tool to convey the undiscovered, to share the immense physicality of the untamed Landscape. These images of far off and mysterious places inspired our desire to physically explore the landscape.

We now live in an age where everything has been mapped, charted, graphed. What is left for the explorer to discover, to reveal? Where can the modern explorer go? Today while there are but only a few places on the Earth’s surface which do not bear the mark of discovered, the photographers/artists working in our midst are deeply aware of their presence and affect in relationship to the Landscape. The deep pool of histories which reside within it and the multiple layers of meaning and connections inherent to the Landscape are also far more apparent. Additionally, the Landscape’s ability to bear evidence to our presence and follies is better understood now more than ever. And man’s ability to artificially alter and define the Landscape for our own purposes has grown abundantly clear.

None of these image-makers are contented approaching the Landscape on solely aesthetic criteria. Rather the ‘explorers’ in Site Seeing offer perspectives that take into account the personal, political, cultural, and social layerings embedded in the Landscape – ranging from the documentation of grand land engineering projects as by Sze Tsung Leong which behold the collapse of past, present and future upon the landscape onto a single frame to Joan Fontcuberta’s digitally engineered landscapes which evoke a long lost sense of mystery and romanticism found within the depiction of uncharted places yet to be “discovered”.

Cities, urban centers are perhaps the most definitive mark of man’s historical presence on the landscape. The subtle shifts and transformations embodied within architecture cumulate into a cacophony of past and present. Photographer Sze Tsung Leong’s series History Images are grand gestures in the tradition of photographers such as Carleton Watkins and Eduard Muybridge in their desire to capture a mechanical transformation of the Landscape which embodies the simultaneous depiction of destruction and creation; the past, present, and future. Leong notes that China has over the past century repeatedly broken from and recreated its ties to its own history visa via the Landscape. With the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in the early 21st Century, as well as the spontaneous emergence of luxury housing and shopping centers, Leong notes that China (more specifically its government) reacts to the Landscape as a canvas for its definition of self.

Like Leong, Stephen Chalmers works in a tradition akin to the giants of the Romantic Landscape Tradition however his intent is to articulate the Landscape’s role as witness by accessing a layer of the Landscape’s history which is not visible by its physicality alone. Through research into the significance of the sites he photographs, the Landscape evolves from a seemingly vapid locale into a haunting resting place for those who fell victim to some of the 20th Century’s most sinister serial killers. Chalmers’ purposeful juxtaposition of benign Landscapes with shocking subtext reminds us of the histories buried deep within.

Diane Meyer is also interested in history; however the histories Meyer investigates are ones which are falsely placed on the Landscape. Her series Lone Pines documents visitors to the Alabama Hills in California where 70% of Hollywood Westerns were filmed. These sites have come to be celebrated for what they represent as opposed to what took place in their valleys and along their trails. As Meyer states in her artist statement, “In a strange circle, the Western was originally inspired by the Landscape, and now the Landscape is inspired by the Western”. Meyer’s images observe the behaviors of visitors to Lone Pines as they attempt to connect with a misplaced American mythos.

Exploration of the idea of falsehood in our reading of the Landscape verberate throughout the works of Dawit L. Petros’s series The Idea of North. Inspired by the pianist Glenn Gould’s radio documentary from which he has derived the series’ title, the Eritrean-born Petros who was raised in the Saskatchewan province of Canada creates images which explore the complex issues of self, race and illusion through the metaphor of whiteness found in sites that evokes diametrically opposed environments. His use of confounding and overlapping landscapes spanning from salt deserts of Death Valley to the glacial topography of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa call attention to assumptions held about race and culture in connection with the Landscape.

The Landscape has throughout the centuries, born witness to our need to claim, organize and control. The distress of separating and policing the Landscape on an individual’s creative and physical freedom is revealed through Palestinian-artist Annemarie Jacir’s short film like twenty impossibles. Based on the filmmaker’s actual experience, this reenactment of a film crew’s effort to travel to a location for their film, a seemingly banal task, is magnified by the current tug-of-war over the highly-contested Landscape shared by Israelis and Palestinians. In watching Jacir’s film, we travel along this historic Landscape, bearing witness to the weight of present day events driven by an imbued past. With Jacir, the connection between the artist and the Landscape is derived not from an intellectual curiosity or sense for exploration alone, but goes to the core of her sense of self

There lies a deep deceit in a work of art’s promise to fully communicate the experience held between man and nature. Reka Reisinger’s quirky and playful images from her Cutout series raises that question in a full frontal fashion – attacking the notion that one’s ability to authentically represent our experiences (with the Landscape) through photographs is possible. In injecting a “removed” representation of herself into each Landscape she photographs, Reisigner appears to be asking us whose experience are we witnessing?

Combining photography’s ability to bring light to forgotten places and site-specific installation /performance art’s ability to inject a metaphorical dialogue within a time and place, Mexican photographer, Alfredo de Stéfano’s personal interventions in the desert Landscape, brings awareness to a Landscape whose rich diversity and complexity is under-considered. De Stéfano’s ritualistic and ephemeral performance/installation images rediscover a forgotten terrain.

Taking into consideration a Landscape all to familiar to contemporary Western Society, Matt Siber’s Floating Logos II series reintroduces a sci-fi sense of the spiritual by manipulating the corporate visage which litters the Landscape of our main roadways. In his exploration of the ubiquitous presence of commercial signage and language in our roadside Landscape, Siber seems to ask us (albeit, tongue in cheek) to consider whether these monumental cultural landmarks are no less awe inspiring than Ansel Adam’s Half Dome or Fredric Church’s grand views of the Hudson Valley from his home at Olana.

Hidden meanings within the forgotten Landscape are unearthed in the works of Bill Brown’s non-narrative films. In Brown’s film Mountain State the past and present of the place’s topography are whimsically interwoven. Through the guise of a “historic” investigation that brings to mind such “educational” or “informative” films as those shown to us in grade school or distributed by regional tourist bureaus – Brown takes us on a journey in which forgotten dreams and desired imbued in the American Landscape are dug up and shown, battered, tattered, but still evident. Brown adds the past as an aesthetic tool in his approach through his use of 16mm film whose blown out exposures, scratches, and fallibilities remain as evidence as our societal memory of a place or time.

Expanding this exhibition’s notion of a “site”, David Graham’s images from In Defense of America stand apart from the other works featured in Site Seeing in that their creating was propelled not by the photographer’s curiosities (though they line-up with Graham’s ongoing interest in (in his words) “the odd and semi-unusual”) but by the US Government’s need to document its activities. The images, deadpan in approach reveal our Military Complex’s Nuclear Testing activities in the late 1980’s in the American Southwest. The transformation of the Landscape, both in purpose to test and as a result of those tests, reminds us of the long standing role warfare holds in obliterating the past, clearing the our imprint on the and making room for new Histories to be laid on the Landscape.

Subverting military mapping technologies, conceptual photographer Joan Fontcuberta offers a seductive vision of uncharted terrains that are entirely false. In his series Orogensis Fontcuberta creates what he describes as “Landscapes without memory”. Utilizing software engineered by the military for the purpose of rendering 3-D images of topographical maps, Fontcuberta “feeds” the program images – such as the three photographs referenced here by photographers Bill Brandt, Alfred Stieglitz, and Eugene Atget. Ironically Fontcuberta’s fictitious Landscapes, filled with grand peaks and inspiring vistas are real representations – each river, each hill standing in for the computer program’s reading of such prescribed terrains as the surface of Bill Brandt’s 1947 photograph Isle of Skye or Alfred Stieglitz’s 1926 print Equivalent, reminding us that understanding and perhaps seeing is all in the translation.

Collectively the artists featured in Site Seeing: Explorations of Landscape ignite a dialogue around the explorer’s role in “discovering” / revealing all that is written upon, around, and within the Landscape. With a diverse range of perspectives, agendas, and relationships to their subject matter, they rediscover the Landscape while recognizing the complex layers, which define this relationship. For our part, as viewers, inhabitants, and stewards of the Landscape, their work demonstrates the ongoing need to not just reconsider what is before our eyes but also to explore the layers of history the Landscape has absorbed as to better comprehend ourselves and where we may be heading.

-Ariel Shanberg & Liz Unterman, 2009

Ariel Shanberg has served as the Executive Director of CPW since 2003. Liz Unterman worked as CPW’s Education Coordinator from 2007 to 2010.


Site Seeing: Explorations of Landscapes, Ariel Shanberg & Liz Unterman, January 29 - March 24, 2009   Bill Brown

Site Seeing: Explorations of Landscapes, Ariel Shanberg & Liz Unterman, January 29 - March 24, 2009Stephen Chalmers

Joan Fontcuberta

Site Seeing: Exploration of Landscapes, Ariel Shanberg & Liz Unterman, January 29 - March 24, 2013David Graham

Site Seeing: Exploration of Landscapes, Ariel Shanberg & Liz Unterman, January 29 - March 24, 2013Annemarie Jacir

Site Seeing: Exploration of Landscapes, Ariel Shanberg & Liz Unterman, January 29 - March 24, 2013    Sze Tsung Leong

Site Seeing: Exploration of Landscapes, Ariel Shanberg & Liz Unterman, January 29 - March 24, 2013Diane Meyer

Site Seeing: Exploration of Landscapes, Ariel Shanberg & Liz Unterman, January 29 - March 24, 2013Dawit L. Petros

Site Seeing: Exploration of Landscapes, Ariel Shanberg & Liz Unterman, January 29 - March 24, 2013  Reka Reisinger

Site Seeing: Exploration of Landscapes, Ariel Shanberg & Liz Unterman, January 29 - March 24, 2013Matt Siber

Site Seeing: Exploration of Landscapes, Ariel Shanberg & Liz Unterman, January 29 - March 24, 2013Alfredo de Stefano



The Camera Always Lies

Second Regional Triennial of the Photographic Arts

curated by Beth E. Wilson

June 14 – August 17, 2008

The true modern primitivism is not to regard the image as a real thing; photographic images are hardly that real. Instead, reality has come to seem more and more like what we are shown by cameras.
–Susan Sontag, On Photography

The Camera Always Lies takes as its starting point a contrary idea: that despite its apparent directness, photography (like all forms of representation) collapses reality in ways that inevitably shape our experience of the world as it is perceived through that medium—and beyond it, as well. Perhaps the verb ‘lies’ is a bit extreme. I will admit to using it in the title of the exhibition as something of a provocation, calling into question what might be considered the assumed role of photography as a producer of objective documents. This is not a question that has only recently arisen with the emergence of the digital format — from its very inception, the camera has functioned to make a picture of the world, which is something very different from the total (re)creation of one. A “mirror with a memory,” the photographic image insinuates itself between us and the place and time in which it was made, a technology (and a displacement) that enables the wide array of strategies displayed by the artists in this show.

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The works gathered for The Camera Always Lies are divided into four categories; Abstraction, The New Romantics, The Anti-Romantics, and The Attractions of Cinema, which are designed to recognize and to advance a conversation between the works featured and the selected artists on themes that reflect various aspects of the larger concept explored in the exhibition. In some cases the same artists and or bodies of work blur the boundaries of these prescribed themes, further emphasizing the elusiveness of established borders and boundaries within contemporary practices. The work in the Abstraction section presses the limits of the medium in departing from the often-assumed literalness of photographic representation, by pursuing seemingly pure, Platonic form. The New Romantics engage projections of desire and fantasy, tapping into the intertwined appeals of history and beauty; the Anti-Romantics expose the flip-side of the coin, puncturing the consumer/ commodity bubble that relies so heavily on photography for its persuasiveness. And finally, the work presented in the Kodak gallery, under the rubric The Attractions of Cinema, addresses the intersections of time, place, and perspective, with works that bear various conceptual relationships to the moving image.

While the exhibition focuses on artists working within the region, it should immediately become clear that there is no longer such a thing as a purely regional set of photographic and/or aesthetic concerns. Given today’s extremely efficient, globalized networks of information and transportation, it would be futile to attempt to identify a particular Hudson Valley aesthetic issue or (in the 19th century sense) a stylistic school within the region. Despite the wide variety of aesthetics and approaches included in the show, however, all of the artists selected for this Triennial are united in the sense that nothing seen here is as it initially appears. By bending perception through the selective deployment of strategies such as framing, focus, and shifts in scale or perspective, the viewer is challenged to make sense of the results. It is my hope that these ‘lies,’ taken together, will help to reveal a larger truth about who and what we are now, in a world that is so fundamentally altered and constructed by the photographic image.

—Beth E. Wilson, Curator

Beth E. Wilson is an art historian, critic, and curator. She teaches art history at SUNY New Paltz including courses on the History of Photography and the History of Film. In 2005-06, Wilson served as interim curator at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz where she organized the exhibition The Material Image: Surface and Substance in Photography. She has been the resident art critic for Chronogram magazine since 1999 and was the curator of the 2007 Kingston Sculpture Biennial.

Joan Barker

Joan Dugdale

Jaanika Peerna

Rob Penner

Sam Sebren

Julianne Swartz

Kathleen Sweeney

Susan Wides

Ion Zupcu


Germán Herrera

Germán Herrera


September 2 – October 29, 2006

Most of these images were felt, not thought.

The reason for their creation is because they can be created.

Creative Principle at work, playing.

I point in a certain direction for the viewer to complete the equation;

she/he may recognize some aspect of the self in the piece,

if so, two parts of the whole have communicated.

They are glimpses into The Vastness where everything comes from.

Germán Herrera
, born in Mexico City and currently based in San Rafael, CA, has exhibited his work at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, CA; Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, OR; Centro de la Imagen in México City, México; Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, CA; the Art Institute of Chicago, IL; in addition to venues in Korea, Germany, and Columbia. Herrera studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, City College of San Francisco, and has participated in Community Healing and Leadership Training in Berkeley, CA. His work is included in collections at Centro Cultural Santo Domingo, Green Library at Stanford University, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Germán is the recipient of a 2006 artist residency at the de Young Museum and two Marin Arts Council Photography grants.

Sage Sohier

Sage Sohier


September 2 – October 29, 2006

Perfectible Worlds is a group of 65 color photographs of people with obsessions. Begun soon after 9/11, the series portrays people transported into worlds and activities over which they have near-total control.

The photographs – made from medium-format negatives – are all environmental portraits, that range from people who make extravagant miniature worlds, to those who have extraordinary collections, to still others who immerse themselves in unusual pursuits. Each photograph is the discovery of a particular world an individual has found or created for himself – a private world that few are privileged to see.

The series began with a picture I took of a friend working on his model railroad. Expanding over the twenty years he has owned his house, his railroad has taken over the entire basement. When he goes down to work on it, he leaves behind both his professional and family life. He need satisfy only himself, and exercises total control over his miniature world. This kind of absorption – what we do in an imperfect world to console ourselves – struck me as a subject worthy of exploration.

We’re all fascinated with other people’s passions – what they do in their spare time to satisfy an inner need. These creations, collections, or activities are quirky, often beautiful, and almost always ends-in-themselves. My ambition has been to reveal the particularity and intensity of their acts and creations, and also to capture their engagement in the midst. Their world — for that fleeting instant, and through their generosity — becomes mine, and now, perhaps, yours.

Sage Sohier has been photographing people in their environments since she graduated from Harvard University in 1976. She has been awarded many grants for her work, including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Photography Fellowship, and two Massachusetts Artist Foundation Photography Fellowships. She has had one-person shows at the Bernard Toale Gallery in Boston, the Addison Gallery of American Art in Cambridge, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, and Gallery Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City. Important group shows include The Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, How Human: Life in the Post-Genome Era at the International Center of Photography in NYC, American Stories, a three person show at the Art Institute of Chicago, and, most recently, Self-Evidence: Identity in Contemporary Art at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in NY and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others, and has been published in New York Times Magazine, LIFE, Newsweek, O, and Discover. She teaches photography in Boston at Massachusetts College of Art and for 12 years at Harvard University. Her work is represented by Bernard Toale Gallery in Boston.

Preston Wadley

Preston Wadley


June 24 – August 20, 2006

Pentimento – the presence or emergence of earlier images, forms, or strokes that have been changed and painted over.

My work uses the book as a purely visual iconographic artifact, in which it is the image, structure, and materials are that are the content. Although their pages may not turn or act like the traditional books we are accustomed to, they are about the very essence of what books mean to us. They have escaped their expected function.

The simple physical presence of a book speaks to knowledge preserved and communicated. Despite the absence of written text, my work is an attempt to provide a close, warm, and unique conversation with an individual. My books are evidence of change, a type of historical revision – a “Pentimento”, reflecting on the connection to what has already been, and an ever-evolving present.

Preston Wadley is an artist and educator working in Washington State. He received his MFA from the University of Washington and is currently a professor at the Cornish College of Art in Seattle, WA. His work has been shown extensively in galleries across Washington, including G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle Art Museum, and debuted on the east coast at En Foco in NYC this spring. In addition to his exhibit at CPW this year, Wadley’s work will be exhibited at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, OR in November. Preston is the recipient of a NEA Goodwill Games Arts Festival grant, a Seattle Arts Commission grant, and Teacher of the Year award from Cornish College. His work has been published in Nueva Luz Photographic Journal, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Seattle Times, and Artweek. He completed a residency here at CPW in the summer of 2005.