FOUND IN TRANSLATION, ICP-Bard’s MFA Group Show from the Class of 2014

Words from our Director, Nayland Blake:

It used to be said that sculpture was the thing you fell over when you backed up to get a better look at a painting. Now the same could be said for photography. One of the many effects of the digitization of photographic proceses has been to make it much easier for photographs to permeate the physical world: coat surfaces to burrow under them, to be draped over our bodies and engulf our vehicles. Photographs have always been objects, of course, but as they increasingly insist on their status as objects, they raise a whole new set of questions for creators and viewers.

The action that we regarded as crucial for the photograph used to be the pressing of the shutter, the moment of decision that locked into place a unique configuration of elements on both sides of the lens. That moment was redolent with a host of social interactions and implications, for which the resultant object, the photographic print, served as a kind of key. The print’s own status was rarely considered, beyond issues of craft and scarcity.

Now that photographs saturate our surroundings in a multitude of forms, we are less inclined to look to the moment of the shutter’s press to provide meaning. The students in this year’s thesis exhibition are pushing photographs more and more into the physical space around them, making those photographs just one element among many. They force us to consider social space by breaking down photographic temporality and placing the viewer in a more vital relationship with the installations and events they have produced. The camera is one tool among many in their arsenal.

It is also telling that the social interactions examined in these works operate on an intimate scale. There is less reliance on big subject matter, and a closer attention to the ways that smaller actions shape our understanding of ourselves and each other. Debris from the sidewalk, the gesture of a hand or foot, the rind of a fruit or path of an insect, a whiff of vapor or sprinkling of glitter—each has been examined, weighed, and carefully deployed.

— Nayland Blake, Chair of the ICP-Bard MFA Program

Changing My Tune

Screen Shot 2013-03-10 at 12.44.52 PMI have two examples about a piece that I changed my mind of. Both are paintings that are part of the art History, with capital H: La Gioconda, and Guernica. I have always admire both paintings, and my change of opinion has nothing to do about first liking it and then not, or vice versa. My change of mind has to do with what I imagine the painting to be, and then the real painting.

When I graduate from high school, my mom, my sister and I went to Europe for the first time. London was cold, even for summer. And Paris was too hot.

My family is very organized when we travel. We always have to do first things first, and that meant go to the Louvre and see the Gioconda!

When we arrived it was impossible to get to the painting. I couldn’t believe how small it was, since I never thought to check the size of the piece. Not only the painting was small, but there was so many people that it was impossible to see it. After a couple of minutes and pushing in the most touristic/enthusiastic way, I could get closer to the painting, just to find it to be protected by a glass that every time a flash was flashed, would bounce right into my eyes making La Gioconda, once again, unreachable. I didn’t get a chance to spend time with the piece, and I really regret it. My change of opinion, in this matter, has to do with my great expectation of coming up close to such an important painting, and not feeling what I thought I would, because of the circumstances.

A similar experience happened with the Guernica. When I arrived to the Museo Reina Sofia, I had to go and see the painting. I was there, in front of the 3.5 x 7.8 meters painting. I couldn’t believe it. I knew it was big, but I didn’t know it was that big! I sat down and just looked at it and let my self feel overwhelmed by such a gigantic expression. I’ve felt like this two other times: 1. when a really huge light hits my eyes and I feel I’m drowning; and 2. when I was shooting a plane and when it turned, the wind that came out of the turbine, almost dropped us from our shooting positions. Lucky me, a group of kinder garden kids was just arriving to look at the piece, and I had the best explanation ever. My expectations of this painting where not only fulfill but overcome.

Now that I’ve written this down, I know that this doesn’t constitute a change of opinion about a piece because of it’s own nature. My change of opinion is based in how museums have chose to show two very important art pieces. Also, it has to do with the circumstance of being a tourist and all its implications.

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Juana Romero Interviews Patricia Silva: Rehearse/Resite

Video

An interview with Patricia Silva about her thesis show, Rehearse/Resite.

An Obsession is an obsession is an obsession

Im obsessed with Arnold Genthe’s photographs of San Francisco’s Chinatown from the 1890‘s.

His photographies live in a book titled Old Chinatown that was edited in 1909 by Moffat, Yard and Company in New York. The first time I saw the book, was on my Ipad on Kindle. I thought it to be a very conservative book. Since in Kindle you can change the background of the book, I chose it to be yellowish, not only because it would be easier to read, but because I felt it was the proper color to look at a book of the early 1990’s. Passing through the pages, or better, scrolling through the pages, I felt the need to touch the paper, to smell the book and see the magnificent cover in person.

I went to the ICP library and looked for it in the catalogue. I got the call number: TR820.5.U6 .G45 1913, and went to look for it in the shelf that the map pointed to. After a while of looking for the book, and not finding it, I had to ask Liz Sales. She looked for it and told me that it was a rare book. -Yes!, I said to my self. She brought it and gave it to me with a ritualistic air that told me that I had to handle it with care. It was in a blue box that when I opened made my favorite sound, velcro sound. And there it was. A little jewel. The cover, as I thought, was beautiful. A fabricImage quality and smell I will not forget. I opened it and touched the beautiful paper that feels old and elegant. I really haven’t read the book. William Irving’s text isn’t my curiosity so I kept passing a page after the other until I started seeing Genthe’s photographs.

The quality of the book gives it a presence impossible to describe. Because of books like this is worth to go to libraries. Even if you are not into chinatown or Genthe, this is a MUST SEE book I recommend to anyone.

I will bring you down baby, I will bring you down to Chinatown

Genthe’s Photographs of San Francisco’s Old Chinatown “I will bring you down baby, I will bring you down to Chinatown.”

-Robert De Niro. Meet The Parents. 2010

Almost every big city in the world has a Chinese neighborhood known as Chinatown. When I was little I came to New York and I remember that my mother took us to a restaurant in Chinatown. I didn’t understand why my mother was taking us to one of the most dangerous places in the world. Years later I found out that the real Chinatown, which I always associated with violence, was actually in San Francisco.

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