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Wouldn’t it be exciting to see an eclectic mix of contemporary photographs that all express deep passion for some of the most compelling issues of our time? It’s here! Thirteen artists delve deep in EXPOSURE 2015, the 19th annual juried exhibition at Photographic Resource Center (PRC) in Boston through July 26, 2015. Judged by Kristen Gresh, Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Assistant Curator of Photographs at the MFA, Boston, the show features several pieces from each project, enabling viewers to get a fuller appreciation for the scope of each artist’s work.
War, violence and its consequences have instigated the efforts of several exhibiting photographers. In his series “Topography is Fate”, Matthew Arnold revisits the vast deserted landscapes of WWII in North Africa. His pale, desolate panoramas, still scarred by the distant war, are silently disquieting. Even more unsettling are Debi Cornwall’s pointed photographs of the residential and leisure spaces of prisoners and military personnel at the U.S Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Her desperately sunny images in “Gitmo at Home, Gitmo at Play” underscore both the tedium and the absurd futility American anti-terrorist efforts there. In his series “Domesticated”, Yorgos Efthymiadis employs the contradiction of alluring, finely crafted antique weapons, practically camouflaged in the welcoming decor of their owners’ homes, as subtle but sharp reminders of the pain and suffering that handguns inflict.
Examining the socio-political side of conflict, Rhea Karam has photographed walls in Lebanon and Egypt during the period known as Arab Spring. Acting as both a barrier and a public forum, each wall reveals the expressions of suppressed voices, offering moral support to those imperiled by strife. In “Liberia”, Keiko Hiromi’s sensitive portraits of children suffering from the ravages of Ebola in a country lacking the most basic infrastructure, ring with poignancy. The strength and beauty she captures in her subjects is a testimony to the human spirit.
The inspiring ways in which the human spirit prevails in adversity is present in many of the works on view. Zoe Perry-Wood’s portraits of teens attending the Boston Alliance of Gay & Lesbian Youth Prom capture the tentative but resolute energy of adolescence and a celebratory spirit that rarely finds expression in the daily lives of those within this subculture. The suppression of homosexuality in Swaziland is explored in the series “Interwoven” by Kyle Meyer (see feature image). By weaving strips of brightly patterned African cloth with cut up portraits of gay Swazi men donning elaborate head-wraps, Meyer allows them to embrace their identity while simultaneously masking it, an acknowledgment of their illegal status.
In her series “We Sold A Winner”, Edie Bresler investigates a parallel American economy, feeding a new version of the American dream, in her images of state lottery purveyors. Focusing on small, family-owned businesses, her vibrant and uplifting photographs are portraits of yearning and resilience. Susan Barnett addresses identity and validation in her series “Not In Your Face” by photographing messages on the back of people’s tee shirts. Taken together, they represent a cultural time capsule, advertising to the world what people think, like, disavow and want to be.
Dean Kessmann explores the concept of the photographic print as an object quite graphically. By crafting unique photogram “test strips” in a traditional darkroom, he reflects upon inherent positive and negative relationships and the ephemeral nature of photography. Likewise, by exploiting the unique and unpredictable qualities of expired photographic papers, David Wolf also celebrates the traditional wet darkroom and its fast-disappearing photographic materials. In his series “The After Life of Things”, Wolf creates new work from outmoded supplies, addressing the state of obsolescence just as much as the materiality of the photographic print.
Commemorating traces of their former glory, Ben Marcin photographs solitary row houses along the eastern seaboard in his series, “Last House Standing”. These buildings, once attached to other similar structures that made up entire city blocks, seem oddly defiant as they testify to the changes in urban landscape and lifestyle. Confronting grief in a highly personal way, Isa Leshko photographs elderly animals as a way to process the inevitability of death. By bonding with and photographing animals at sanctuaries across the country, Leshko conveys a state of grace to this most universal of experiences.
All thirteen photographers selected by juror Kristen Gresh for EXPOSURE 2015 bring powerful conviction and empathy to their visual revelations. This captivating exhibit will be at the PRC through July 26, 2015! For information, summer hours, and directions, go to: http://www.bu.edu/prc/exposure/juriedexhibition.htm
Feature Image: Crop from “Ivory, 2014/2015” from the series “Interwoven” by Kyle Meyer (courtesy of the artist)