montañera: MFA Solo Show by CRISTINA VELÁSQUEZ


April 6-8, 2017
 from 6-9 pm at ICP Bard MFA Studio in LIC

“Art is the means by which I can break through the gates of my own history to perceive my culture in a different way. I would like to undertake this task, particularly today, when the demand to reflect on the present, as we gaze at the possibility of a different future, also requires that we revise the construction of our past”.

Over the last two years, Cristina Velásquez has developed a body of work that stems from observations of everyday life in Colombia. In her first solo exhibition, montañera, the artist studies different ways of experiencing a place where the absurd viscerally presents itself everyday and reality is exaggerated through contradictions that evade the artist who tries to describe them. Through examinations of the Colombian culture, history and geography, Velásquez reinterprets reality, using elements of fiction and artifice to undermine assumptions and confound the sensation of truth.

Through photography, weaving and text, Velasquez’s work explores the power —and limitations— of representation and translation, between individuals and cultures of resistance. It attends to the ways in which shared notions of value are shaped—and governed—by images, social conventions, and political relationships between different cultures. The artist uses her own experience as a Colombian artist and her transition into the US, as a point of reference to investigate notions of civilization, beauty and race, in relationship to other culture’s. In particular, many of Velásquez’s pieces consider how Colombian history and national identity have been constructed against a backdrop of colonialism and political dependence.


Cristina Velásquez (b. 1985 – Colombia) is a visual artist working mainly with photography and two-dimensional objects on paper. She holds a B.A. in Industrial Design from Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia, and is currently enrolled in the ICP-Bard MFA Program, in Advanced Photography Studies at New York City, U.S. where she was awarded the ICP Director’s Scholarship (Colombia 2016-2017). Cristina was part of the School of Visual Arts Photo Residency in 2014 and has been part of several group exhibitions in New York City since 2012. Her artist-books -Rear Door, /100 and One way of letting go- are part of the permanent collection of the ICP Library.

Dia Beacon

Today, ICP MFA class had a field trip to Dia Beacon.

from Top Left to Bottom Right:

Michael Heizer  North, East, South, West, 1967/2002
Joseph Beuys Arena – dove sarei arrivato se fossi stato intelligente!, 1970–72
Richard Serra 45 maquettes for Torqued Ellipses, 1994–98
Richard Serra Consequence, 2003
Richard Serra Union of the Torus and the Sphere, 2001
Richard Serra 2000, 2000
Dan Flavin untitled (to a man, George McGovern) 2, 1972
Dan Flavin untitled, 1976
Dan Flavin untitled (to you, Heiner, with admiration and affection), 1973

Curators’ Talk: Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change

I had an opportunity to attend the curators’ talk at the ICP Museum tonight, covering the current exhibition: Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change. This exhibition touches upon six critical, social issues; climate change, the refugee crisis, #BlackLivesMatter, terrorist propaganda, gender fluidity, as well as the 2016 Presidential Election and right-wing fringe. At today’s talk, eight curators explained each subject, how they selected visual images, and their strategy of displaying different media.



About the Exhibition

Organized by ICP Curators Carol Squiers and Cynthia Young, Assistant Curators Susan Carlson and Claartje van Dijk, along with adjunct curators Joanna Lehan and Kalia Brooks with assistance from Akshay Bhoan and Quito Ziegler, Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change continues ICP’s long-standing tradition of exploring the social and historic impact of visual culture.

Today, viewers are barraged by seemingly endless streams of new kinds of media images on an unprecedented scale. Perpetual Revolution explores the relation between the overwhelming image world that confronts us, and the volatile, provocative, and often-violent social world it mirrors.

This exhibition proposes that an ongoing revolution is taking place politically, socially, and technologically, and that new digital methods of image production, display, and distribution are simultaneously both reporting and producing social change. The epic social and political transformations of the last few years would not have happened with the speed and in such depth if it weren’t for the ever-expanding possibilities offered by this revolution.

Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change presents six of these critical issues transformed by visual culture: #BlackLivesMatter, gender fluidity, climate change, terrorist propaganda, the right-wing fringe and the 2016 election, and the refugee crisis.

Review by NYT

About Curators

Jillian Steinhauer is the senior editor of Hyperallergic. She was the winner of the 2014 Best Arts Reporting Award from the U.S. chapter of the International Association of Art Critics and the 2016 art writer in residence at SPACES gallery. Her work has appeared in the Guardian, New Republic, Paris Review Daily, Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications. She writes mainly about art and politics, but sometimes also about cats.

 Cynthia Young is the Curator of the Robert Capa Archive at the International Center of Photography. She curated Capa in Color for ICP in 2014, now traveling in Europe and South America. Other recent ICP exhibitions include: We Went Back: Photographs from Europe 1933-1956 by Chim (with accompanying catalogue) in 2013, and The Mexican Suitcase: The Rediscovered Spanish Civil War Negatives of Capa, Chim, and Taro (and edited the award-winning catalogue) in 2010.

 Carol Squiers is a writer and curator at the International Center of Photography in New York, where she has organized numerous exhibitions on a range of subjects, including contemporary art, fashion photography, documentary photography, and the intersection of science, technology, and photography. She has published extensively in periodicals, books, and catalogues. Her most recent book, What Is a Photograph? (Prestel, 2014), accompanied an exhibition of the same name. She teaches a curatorial studies class in the ICP-Bard MFA program.

 Susan Carlson is an Assistant Curator, Collections at the International Center of Photography, where she works on exhibitions and collections projects. She co-curated Winning the White House: From Press Prints to Selfies (2016), and assisted on the traveling exhibition Roman Vishniac Rediscovered (2013) and the corresponding catalogue of ICP’s Roman Vishniac Archive (2015). She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Cinema and Media Studies from Carleton College and an MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies from Columbia University.

 Claartje van Dijk is Assistant Curator, Collections, at the International Center of Photography, New York. In 2015, Claartje coordinated the exhibition: Hunt’s Three Ring Circus: American Groups Before 1950 with collector W.M. Hunt. She was the Curatorial Assistant for the traveling exhibition Twilight Visions: Surrealism, Photography, and Paris, a juror on the ICP faculty exhibition Stories in the Social Landscape, and a guest curator for On Democracy, at Newspace Center for Photography in Portland (Oregon). Claartje was on the nominating committee for the ICP Infinity Awards and she has reviewed portfolios for PowerHouse Books and the New York Times. At ICP, Claartje conducts research on the over 150,000 historical and contemporary photos and objects in the institution’s collection. She also manages, edits, and contributes to Fans in a Flashbulb, the ICP Collections blog. Claartje was previously the Management and PR Assistant at Museum Ons’ Lieve Heer op Solder in Amsterdam. She studied art history and museum studies at the University of Amsterdam.

 Joanna Lehan is an editor, writer, and curator who co-organized three of ICP’s Triennial exhibitions: Strangers (2003), Ecotopia (2006), and A Different Kind of Order (2013). She has edited books by artists Trevor Paglen, Hank Willis Thomas, and Thomas Ruff, among others, as well as contributed essays to several photographic monographs. She teaches in the ICP-Bard MFA program.

 Kalia Brooks is a New York–based independent curator and writer. Brooks is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Photography and Imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, a PhD Candidate in Aesthetics and Art Theory with the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. She received her MA in Curatorial Practice from the California College of the Arts in 2006, and was a Helena Rubinstein Fellow in Critical Studies at the Whitney Independent Study Program 2007-08.

Quito Ziegler is an artist and curator with a radical imagination and an endless supply of sharpies who has been working at the intersection of art and community organizing for almost 20 years. They are a founding member of the WRRQ collective, whose projects include the collectively made movie Wild Ponies Dancing, and Arts in the Woods, an annual intergenerational retreat for queer artists who are surviving or have survived transience. Other collaborative art projects include Queer Planet, the Forest of the Future, and many moonlight beach parties. They drive around in a beloved van called the Pony. A long-term student of social movements, Ziegler has worked on and off for 15 years at the Open Society Foundations’ Documentary Photography Project, where they produced the Moving Walls exhibition. They have political roots in the Burmese democracy movement, the Minnesota Dream Act student movement, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice, and the movement for trans liberation. They currently serve on the board of the Third Wave Fund, and recently helped curate the gender section of the ICP exhibition Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change.

 Erin Barnett, Director of Exhibitions and Collections, returned to ICP in 2016 after a brief hiatus. She had previously worked in ICP’s Exhibitions and Collections department for eleven years, where she organized, curated, and co-curated over 30 exhibitions and publications including The Loving Story: Photographs by Grey Villet, Hiroshima: Ground Zero 1945, President in Petticoats! Civil War Propaganda in Photographs, Take Me to the Water: Photographs of River Baptisms, and Munkacsi’s Lost Archive. Erin also conducted research on the collection, oversaw collection loans and rights and reproduction program, and co-taught an ICP-Bard MFA course on research methodologies and writing. She has also worked in the curatorial departments of the New Museum and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. An alumnae of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program’s curatorial program, Erin also holds an MA in the History of Art from the University of Kansas and a BA in Art History and East Asian Studies from Oberlin College.

James Coleman at Marian Goodman Gallery

You may not consider 57th Street to be a gallery spot in Manhattan but 24 West 57th Street is home to five galleries including the Marian Goodman Gallery.

I spent an hour at this gallery today to view video installation work by James Coleman. Two floors, the entire gallery, is dedicated to his multimedia art.

The 4th floor and main north gallery is filled with LED based video installation work Untitled, 2011-2015, about 16 feet wide and 12 feet tall, with looped slide image and booming audio, creating a surreal environment. The video image and audio are slightly out of sync, creating an unpredictable sensation.

It looks like a simple projection but actually LED with very complicated electric parts.

My favorite piece was on the 3rd floor, Working Arrangement – horoscopus, 2004 where Coleman uses eight channel video, with eight actors improvising from a theatrical text based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.



photo from Marian Goodman Gallery website.

More information and review by Blouin ArtInfo:

The exhibition presents a selection of iconic early works from the sixties and seventies to the present, and will premiere to the US two major film installations by artist James Coleman (b. 1941, Ireland). Since his first exhibition in 1970, Coleman’s pioneering practice has redefined the understanding and expectations of time-based work and has had an immeasurable influence on subsequent generations of artists, as his critique of the photographic image through meticulously composed slide, film and video projections engages the viewers understanding of how an image accrues meaning and the viewers’ role in defining the experience of the photographic image. The exhibition includes two new works by the artist- ‘Untitled’ and ‘Still Life’, which appears to contemplate the origins and the present currency.  Also on view is ‘Documenta 11 Project’ (1998-2000), a video installation, which explores the liminal state between the apparent recognizable and intangible, engaging the viewer’s desire to assign language and meaning to form. Concurrently on is a selection of seminal early films by the artist- ‘Projected Images’, made during his two decades stint in Milan. ‘Working Arrangement- horoscopus’, a project filmed in 2004, comprised of 8 different screens projected simultaneously, is also presented in the Project Room situated on the third floor of the gallery.

James Coleman January 17 – February 18, 2017

Marian Goodman Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of James Coleman opening at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York on Tuesday, January 17th, 2017. The show will remain on view through Saturday, February 18th, 2017. This extensive show follows a recent exhibition in our London space, and a major retrospective at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in 2012. The exhibition will present a selection of iconic earlier works from the sixties and seventies to the present, and will premiere to the US two major film installations that have occupied the artist during recent years. Since his first exhibition in 1970, Coleman’s pioneering practice has redefined our understanding and expectations of time-based work and has had an immeasurable influence on subsequent generations of artists. Coleman’s critique of the photographic image through meticulously composed slide, film and video projections engages the viewers understanding of how an image accrues meaning and the viewers’ role in defining the experience of the photographic image. While Coleman assigns a subtle conceptual and temporal aspect to the experience of the image, his works are characterized by a sensual beauty and elegance that results from his embrace of the photographic image’s inherent uncertainties and potential.

Untitled (2011-15) will be presented in the North Gallery and Still Life (2013-16) in the South Gallery. Of these two new works, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh has written: In a dialectical constellation of extreme opposites, James Coleman’s two new works, Still Life and Untitled, seem to contemplate the origins and the present currency, the alpha and the omega of representation. Still Life stages a singular, live poppy plant, whose merely microscopically perceptible biological life is traced in a larger than life size filmic projection, as though returning to one of the origins of aesthetic desire, to depict nature, and convey its miraculous operations mimetically. Not accidentally, the poppy as the chosen plant, equally embodies the biological specimen of the flower that has represented the desire for the dream and trance in Western European culture. Its counterpart, Untitled, in utter reversal of the still life structure, is based on a film clip the artist recorded when studying the rotations of a carousel and the screams and gestures of the inhabitants of its flying chairs. While seemingly a futurist celebration of machinic movement and joyful abandon, the clip is actually subjected to a rigorously structured pattern of programmed repetition, accompanied by an even more ominous enforcement of circular sound, the endless repetition of an unidentifiable, yet uncannily familiar menacing sonoric pattern.

Documenta 11 Project (1998-2000), a video installation, will be shown in the space adjacent to the South Gallery. The work explores the liminal state between what appears recognizable and what is intangible, engaging the viewer’s desire to assign language and meaning to form, resisting our expectations to discern and comprehend what we see while engaging us on the threshold of this “equivocation of an image”. Concurrently on view will be a selection of seminal early films – ‘Projected Images’. Made during Coleman’s two decades working and studying in Milan, these works consist of a single take, often in static shots, meditating on a prosaic subject where we can discern the foundations of Coleman’s explorations of the still and moving image. These works of the late 60s and seventies — originally filmed on 8mm/Super 8mm films, and later transferred to 16mm — will be shown on rotation over the course of the exhibition and include: Pheasant, Work Apron, Clock, La Valle della Morte, and Skull. A schedule for the films will be available during the exhibition.

Working Arrangement- horoscopus, is a project filmed in 2004 which has been in development. Comprised of 8 different screens projected simultaneously, it will be presented in the Project Room situated on the Third Floor of the gallery.

James Coleman invited eight actors to improvise from a theatrical text based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The actors were requested to remain in their designated character roles during the entire recorded performance — including scenes on and off-stage. All of the scenes, both on and off stage, were filmed on a continuous basis using “button” cameras placed on the body of each actor, including in and on eye glasses, clothing, etc. The staging of the performances and the theatrical texts are thus equally improvised.

Working Arrangement  horoscopus (2004) is part of a larger project in development. Versions of this work have been previously exhibited at Chiado Museum, Lisbon (2004) and The Royal Hibernian Academy Dublin Contemporary (2011).




Trump’s Order Barring Muslims Hits World Press, ICP

I was perplexed about what subject to cover in our blog.
Should I introduce photographers I like?
New show in NYC?
After reading blog entries the past two weeks by fellow MFA students, I have decided to share this story reflecting the world we live in today.

Trump’s Order Barring Muslims Hits World Press, ICP

Posted by David Walker on Sunday January 29, 2017 | Photojournalism

World Press Photo has announced a last-minute decision to replace juror Eman Mohammed, a U.S. resident (and 2010 PDN’s 30) who fears she’ll be barred from re-entering the U.S. if she travels to Amsterdam this week to help judge the competition. Separately, a Syrian photographer scheduled to speak at International Center of Photography on March 8 has been denied entry to the US.

The World Press Photo announcement followed a Facebook post by Mohammed on Saturday, explaining that her lawyer had advised her not to leave the U.S. because of the executive order signed on Friday by Donald Trump. The order suspends entry to the US by refugees and by citizens of several predominantly Muslim countries.

Mohammed is Palestinian. Trump’s executive order doesn’t specifically bar Palestinians, but Mohammed said on Facebook, “I’ll be detained because Palestine isn’t a country according to the U.S.” (Countries singled out in the executive order include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.)

“We are angered and saddened that bigotry has prevented this talented member of the photojournalism community from joining us this week,” World Press Photo’s Managing Director Lars Boering and WPP’s board chairman Oswal Schwirtz said in a prepared statement on Sunday. They also said: “Eman’s place on the general jury will now be occupied by an equally talented photographer, Tanya Habjouqa.”

Boering was more pointed on Facebook: “I am furious that we can’t bring one of our jury members to Amsterdam… due to the ridiculous actions taken by Trump,” he wrote. “A contest that is about freedom of speech, a foundation that is all about inclusiveness can’t jeopardize a single mom to be separated from her kids just because she is born in a place in the world Trump doesn’t like. That is why I advised her not to leave the USA and stay home.”

Mohammed said on her Facebook post that if she’s barred from re-entering the U.S., she could be separated from her daughters, who are U.S. citizens. With no family in the US, she explained, she doesn’t know where or with whom her daughters might end up.

“Not in a million years I’ve imagined I’ll have to choose between my freedom and my daughters,” Mohammed wrote.

Meanwhile, Syrian refugee Thair Orfahli has been denied permission to travel to the U.S. for a March 8 panel discussion at ICP about the center’s new exhibit called “Perpetual Revolution.” Orfahli, whose selfies and social media posts are included in the exhibition, fled to Europe after his home was destroyed in the Syrian civil war. He had been seeking a visa to attend the ICP event when Trump signed the executive order, which bans Syrian refugees indefinitely.

“Thair Orfahli’s visa appointment was canceled without comment,” ICP adjunct curator Joanna Lehan announced Saturday on Facebook. “This is only one of thousands of stories we are about to hear, and admittedly not the most dire. Still, I’m devastated, and so embarrassed for our country. Thair, who risked his life crossing the Mediterranean, said he felt sorry for US.”


Screen shot of chat between Joanna Lehan from ICP and Thair Orfahli, from his facebook page

Image Making for Sympathy (or Lack of)

During our visit to “the ICP at MANA”, we had an opportunity to see a piece of archival material, original photography taken by Gerda Taro in the 1930’s.  Many of her photos were published under Robert Capa, and all of them were about the Spanish Civil War in 1937 – 38.  She died on the battlefield and her relationship with Capa formed an interesting backstory. But what caught my attention was a photo of a child.




Child refugee from Malaga in Almeria, Spain
By Gerda Taro
February 1937, Almeria Spain, gelatin silver, 2-3/16” x 2-1/8”


There are many photographers before Taro who captured the battle, dying solders, and more traditional portraits of military officers. Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, Timothy H. O’Sullivan, and many other 19th century American photographers used photography as a medium to communicate the scene of war to the public years before Taro. But slower film speed and a complicated development process prohibited photographers from being on the scene. Brady, Gardner, and O’Sullivan often photographed only the aftermath of a battle. Slow film speed was also a problem photographing children who could not sit still. It was a common practice to photograph children after their death so the subject did not move, and the image for the remaining family to remember what was lost.



Dead Child
By unknown photographer, Around 1890-1910


Taro may be the first photographer who took an image of a child to convey the message, the civilian suffering of war. We all react to graphic images of war, dead bodies, blood, ruined cities, but especially when we see children in the frame, an innocent and powerless one, causing us to question the cost conflict. This is an image for sympathy, communicating through our common feeling toward children.


One of the key elements of the image is the body gesture and face of the baby. The baby is not in pain, nor crying, but asleep.  Its face is not happy, not sad, but neutral. Its right arm is shaped as if they are looking for a mother to hold onto. It has a classic composition of western Christian painting. The shape of child refugee from Malaga by Taro immediately reminded me of a painting by Caravaggio.




Sleeping Cupid
Caravaggio, 1608, oil on canvas, 72 cm x 105 cm


It is not just Caravaggio but many painters created similar images of a child to tell the story of Bible, the virgin Madonna and sleeping Christ.




The Virgin with the Sleeping Christ Child
(Madonna with Sleeping Christ Child)
By Orazio Gentileschi, 1610, 99.8 cm x 85.3 cm


An image search on the Internet results in thousands of similar images. They all have something in common, sleepy innocent face of a child, twisted body, often complemented by a background with velvet or soft silky fabric to contrast the shape of baby’s body. I am not sure Taro saw the similarity in her subject on the bed, and traditional Christian paintings but I am sure her trained eye saw the key message. This child and many others will lose their home, family, and possibly their own life if the war does not end.


The image of sympathy can be found in other photography before Taro. Jacob Riis photographed harsh living conditions of Italian immigrants in New York tenement blocks in the late 19th century.



Children Sleeping in Mulberry Street
By Jacob Riis, 1890, photographic print from “How the Other Half Lives”


Riis did not photograph scenes of war. But the message is the same. By showing a harsh reality, both Riis and Taro try to ask us, to change that reality. This is not limited to a photographic media but also occurs in painting.



By Edvard Munch, 1897, painting, 120 cm x 141 cm


This painting is based on an experience Munch had at a hospital in Paris where a mother is holding a dying child, infected with syphilis, in a waiting room. This painting shocked society by showing the suffering of syphilis, touching a taboo of discussing sexually transmitted disease. It is also a grotesque inversion of the classic “Madonna and child” (



By Pablo Picasso, 1937, oil on canvas, 349 cm x 776 cm


Taro is not the only person who used artistic expression to communicate the suffering of children in Spanish War.  Picasso’s famous painting “Guernica” is about the Spanish Civil War, has a woman on the left, holding her dead child, representing innocence lost and the violence of the war. This was one of the first aerial bombardments by Nazi Germany who supported the Fascist leader General Francisco Franco, indiscriminately killing civilian population.




Napalm Girl (Phan Thi Kim Phuc)
By Nick Ut AP, 1972, photographic print


Kim Phuc was nine-years-old when Nick Ut took this image of her running naked, half burned from Napalm. South Vietnamese Air Force pilot mistook her family and South Vietnamese soldiers who were fleeing from a temple as North Vietnamese forces, accidentally dropped a Napalm bomb, killing two of her cousins and two other villagers on June 8, 1972. A New York Times editor initially refused to publish this image due to the nudity, but changed their decision, and featured it on the front page the next day, later earning a Pulitzer Prize.  In 2016, a Norwegian writer shared the same image on Facebook but Facebook’s algorithm accidentally identified the image as nudity and “Facebook Community Standards” violation, removed from its webpage, and suspending the writer’s account.  Computer algorithm has advanced to identify human female naked body, but does not yet understand an image meant to gain sympathy.




Barefoot Gen (manga)
By Keiji Nakazawa, 1973-1974, comic magazine


Image making for sympathy is not limited to painting and photography but is also used in more casual media such as manga and comics. “Barefoot Gen” is a famous manga by Keiji Nakazawa. The story is loosely based on his own experience during WWII, growing up in Hiroshima, Japan. In the scene above, he drew one of his neighbors a soldier who returned with heavy injuries.  The text reads: “I lost my eyes, lost feet and forearms, alive as if worm. But my neighbor praise as if I’m a war hero.”



Dead Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi
By Nilufer Demir DHA Reuters, 2015, digital photo


The world was shocked to see the image of Syrian refugee boy who was drowned and washed up on Bodrum Beach in Turkey.  Alan Kurdi was two or three-years-old when he died. His family was trying to escape civil war in Syria, moving to be with their relatives in Canada, but their refugee sponsorship was rejected by the Canadian government, forcing his family to take a dangerous route to Turkey by small inflatable boat from Greece, resulting in his death.



Boy, Omran Daqneesh, in an Ambulance near Aleppo
By Mustafa al-Sarut, Getty Images 2016


Omran Daqneesh was pulled from the rubble in Aleppo from an airstrike by Bashar Assad, rescued and placed into an ambulance covered in dust and blood.  Mustafa al-Sarut and a few other cameramen were able to record and broadcast the rescue scene.  Omran’s parents and three siblings were also rescued, but his ten-year-old brother, Ali, was dead as a result of injury.



“It’s All About Me”
By Kaz Senju, Nov 25th 2016 at Union Square, NY, digital photo


It’s been almost 70 years since Taro photographed a refugee child in Spain. We have come far since the World War and Cold War but civil war and conflict continue around the world. And it’s not just an international conflict that requires attention, and needs us to make images for sympathy. We have our own challenge right here in USA. In the age of the selfie, images are everywhere. Social media makes us believe we are more sympathetic to social justice. Hence it is even more important for us to consider image making for sympathy today.