Towards Hope & Restoration: Cleveland Photographers Respond
Charles Mintz “Loli Kantor” from the series Precious Objects (2011) 31” x 17 “ inkjet print with scanned hand-written text on washi Text reads: "This is my mother's handwritten letter, dated April 21, 1946. My mother Lola Kantor, died in childbirth with me. This is the only handwritten piece by my mother that I own."
The Gallery at Trinity Commons is pleased to announce an exhibition of contemporary photography: Towards Hope & Restoration: Cleveland Photographers Respond (9/10/11 – 11/20/11).
Projection always hides a feeling you don't want to look at. If you examine any negative trait you insist is present in another person, you will find that same trait hiding in yourself. The more you deny this trait, the more strongly you will have to project it.
—Dr. Deepak Chopra
“When it comes to photographs, we are all deconstructionists now. After thirty years of Derrida, Foucault, and Baudrillard, anyone can confidently (if incorrectly) proclaim that photographs lie, manipulate, oppress; that they are ‘fictive constructs’ and ‘discourses of power;’ that they reveal only their own prejudices, not objective reality; that they express privilege, never truth. Yet more and more, it is upon these presumably meretricious, morally stained documents that we rely—not just to bring us news of the world, but to form our ethical and political consciousness and even, sometimes, to determine our actions.”
— Susie Linfield
From the article “Capture the Moment: On the Uses and Misuses of Photojournalism,” Boston Review (April/May 2001)
As popular as he is, I confess I don’t read Chopra. I have only a cursory familiarity with his thoughts and writing; I stumbled across the reference above while thinking about the phrase “Moving Beyond Violence and Despair.” (I was asked to curate an exhibition of contemporary photography with a Cleveland, Ohio-centric focus to address the theme for the Gallery @ Trinity Commons). What caught my eye—my sustained attention—in Chopra’s passage was the word “projection,” a term I am much more accustomed to thinking about relative to my usual reading fare of photo-literature, photographic criticism, visual perception, and art history. In example, and admittedly in my own unfashionable way, I was quick to reflect upon John Szarkowski’s exhibition and catalogue Mirrors and Windows: American Photography Since 1960, held at The Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1978. Often criticized through our post-modern era for overly reductive simplicity, the interpretive strategies of thinking about the photographic image as a mirror of self, or as a window unto the world (and every permutation in-between), I find useful here.
Historically predisposed, or perhaps handicapped depending on one’s point of view, when I think of “projection,” the first images I draw upon are similar to those illustrations in reference to the development of linear perspective from the Renaissance forward—a mathematically correct system by which the 3-dimensional world is rendered onto a 2-dimensional surface. This arduously acquired skill of spatial interpretation—our western preoccupation with this rational order of space as “correct,” as “picture perfect,” or as things should be—is built into our cameras through centuries of scientific, artistic, and technological advancement. We don’t have to think about it or do the math. (That’s not necessarily a good thing.)
As photographers and presenters, what we often think about, and hopefully take responsibility for, is how we gather, create, and “project” information to the viewer. And perhaps the exhibition Moving Beyond Violence and Despair will raise questions about the actions we take, or don’t take, in response to the image as perceived. Frances Richard writes in “The Thin Artifact: On Photography and Suffering” which appeared in the December 13, 2010 edition of The Nation: “The question is how we do this. How to look into a flat smear of ink or emulsion? In his book-length essay Camera Lucida (1981), in which he discusses the notion of the punctum, [Roland] Barthes speaks of his desire to ‘turn the photograph over, to enter into the paper's depth, to reach its other side.’ This is just what a photograph can't allow. How, then, to comprehend the thin artifact, especially when it shows people we'll never know under duress? Is it always right to look? Is it ever all right to turn away? What do we learn, and can such lessons translate beyond passive beholding into political or existential acts?”
In reference to the state of photojournalism at the time and the decline of picture magazines during the 1950s, Szarkowski wrote in his above-mentioned catalogue, “Good photographers had long since known—whether or not they admitted it to their editors—that most issues of importance cannot be photographed.” Today, I think I understand what he meant. When it comes to the ideal of moving beyond violence and despair toward hope and restoration, I rather favor the work of looking within ourselves, through the “depth,” to reach that “other side”—and that is a process that the photographers such as Honey Lazar, Tracey Lind, Charles Mintz, and Garie Waltzer who are included in this exhibition, seek to explore and share.
If I accept Chopra’s message, then every person in my life who has ever ruffled my feathers has the potential to serve as a truthful mirror, a reflection of self deeper than appearance—or perhaps a window unto self. What do I do with this information? It stands to reason that what I do is a measure of how I interpret the image in the mirror—or the window—as the case may be. No matter the root of violence and despair—be it hatred, fear, loneliness, abuse, difference, greed, scarcity of material and resources, self-loathing—the precious movement toward hope and restoration begins as an inside job.
It is a great privilege and honor to have the opportunity to work with photographers such as Honey Lazar, Tracey Lind, Charles Mintz, and Garie Waltzer, whose work is included in the exhibition. I am also grateful for the opportunity to work with the wonderful staff of Trinity Cathedral, to partner with them in the effort of advancing common good and community engagement. This exhibition is just a small part of Trinity’s year-long initiative and programs surrounding the theme of “Moving Beyond Violence and Despair/Toward Hope and Restoration.
The exhibition is curated by James Wyman, is an internationally noted curator and specialist in contemporary photography. He will be curating the exhibit which will be on display from September 10 – November 20, 2011. Photographers include Honey Lazar, Tracey Lind, Charles Mintz, and Garie Waltzer.
Gallery Hours: Wednesday:1 pm - 6 pm, Friday: 5pm - 9pm, Saturday: 10am - 3pm, Sunday:12pm - 5pm.
The Gallery @ Trinity Commons is located at: 2230 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44115. 216-771-3630 Parking is available for Trinity Commons off Prospect Ave.
Since 1983, curator, educator, fundraiser, museum and gallery director, James Wyman, has offered a resolute and inclusive vision in the fine art museum field, higher education, not-for-profit management, and areas of specialization such as contemporary art and photography. Among his administrative and fundraising achievements are successful building campaigns, strategic leadership roles in major capital campaigns at Doctoral/Research Universities—Extensive, and more than 100 grants from various state and federal agencies, foundations, and corporations. â€¨â€¨As a scholar and curator, James Wyman has organized more than 300 exhibitions of art, dozens of which have traveled to museums and galleries throughout the United States. His exhibitions have been among the first to explore participatory, multi- and inter-disciplinary interpretive strategies—now, a museological standard in the field. He is a leading figure in the development of new paradigms for art exhibitions and public engagement, and the museum experience. His involvement with numerous community groups—his service work on committees and panels—has resulted in the betterment of civic life for thousands. He consistently seeks to provide the kind of transformative experiences that make the arts central to the fiber and identity of the communities he serve. With the guiding value of service to others, his private consulting practice and business, James Wyman Fine Art, represents much more than the finest art of our time; James Wyman Fine Art represents an unparalleled commitment to the betterment of society through the arts.