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Maurice Berger writes for the New York Times Lens Blog on recent ICP-Bard MFA alumnus Kim Weston‘s work:

“…Seen, Unseen, Ms. Weston’s contribution to her class’s thesis group show, focuses on her mother’s family in Cheraw, S.C. The artist, who is part African-American, Native American and Irish, initially found the process of photographing her relatives daunting. “I was afraid of violating their privacy. I didn’t want to be seen as exploiting them.”

Though she completed the series in relative secrecy — she told no one at school about it — she ultimately embraced it as a celebration of “the people who made me who I am'”

Read the full article here.

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

THANK YOU FOR THE BIRTHDAY GIFT ROBERT CAPA

“Capa was one of the century’s great storytellers, both as a photographer and in life, which is a reason we still revere him, and whatever questions linger about his fidelity no longer matter very much, because his images have passed from news into the vague category of art, where the line between truth and fiction is even fuzzier.”

–Michael Kimmelman, chief art critic of The New York Times, 1998,

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When I look at pictures of Robert Capa I often wonder what type of laugh he had, he looks like such a character in those old b&w photographs. And I guess he had to be to go into war armed with only a camera to capture the horrors for the world to see. Fifty-nine years after his death, I’d love to hear what he’d have to say about photography and the people that make up the photographic community today. Would he have embrace Instagram? Shoot a war with an iPhone? Or how would he define “New Photography”. Maybe some of the answers are in the 70,000 images and stories he left behind. A gift that never stops giving.

Happy Birthday Mr. Capa.

Turn the Other Cheek


In 1992, Félix González-Torres created “Untitled” (America #1) an installation of light bulbs, porcelain light sockets, and an extension cord. Like most art, it’s a personal opinion to express how you feel about the work of an artist. Or should I say to understand the creation or maybe not. Frankly, Torres’ work did nothing for me. It only made me think of outdoor summer parties with tiki torches and colored lights wrapped around the fashionable outdoor umbrella set, and the smell of Corona, barbecue and the smoke of someone’s cigarette. I just could not wrap my mind around the purpose of the work. I remember seeing the work with a few teenage kids I taught at the Harlem School of the Arts in New York City. The kids laughed and were convinced they could have recreated Torres’ work. “That’s art?” became the topic of conversation. How do you explain to teenagers how light bulbs, porcelain light sockets, and an extension cord laying on the floor of a gallery is art? Or explain the integrated relationship between art, politics, aids and homosexuality in 1992 to these young minds? To me, it was so complicated then. The critics did not find it complicated. They raved about this contemporary, minimal display of light and the political message of Torres’ work. I found, I could not find the connection on my own. I needed the help of Torres’ critics and their reviews to help me make sense of the work.

I recently went to the New Museum to see the “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star” works of art made and exhibited in New York over the course of that one year. The show included Félix González-Torres’ Untitled (Couple). It was one of his various installations of light bulbs, porcelain light sockets, and extension cords. This one hung from the ceiling in room that was exceptionally large in scale.  The installation was juxtaposed several other artist work. Together those works pushed me into a state of emotion. In that moment I turned the other cheek. I got it. I got Torres’ intention. The worked unexpectedly moved me to tears. 

1993 reminds me of being fresh out of college. This instillation made me reflected on where I was and what I was seeing all around me in the 90’s. The aids crisis affected the art world on so many levels. There was a mad rush to make a statement about it. Gay men were scared and dying from this disease. Crack in combination with aids devastated black communities with more broken homes, incarceration and death. Homelessness and crime were out of control in NYC, and world politics and war consumed the airways. Sometimes simplicity speaks volumes. Torres managed to sum up so many of these issues by literally shining light on them.

HIDE: SKIN AS MATERIAL AND METAPHOR

My father-n-law is a man of pride. His conversations always lead to our Native American traditions. Those conversations or should I say story telling which feel like very long lectures (that depends on my perspective based on what mood I’m in) are refreshing to hear. He speaks of the ways of the Seminole tradition and how we must not forget the language, the dance, ceremonies and the crafts of our culture. His stories can go on for hours. Sometimes leading me to journey with one sleepy closed eye and the other open for fear I’ll miss something good. Regardless I never stop listening to him about the joys and the injustice that Natives have experienced. As he sits and creates beautiful beadwork on a long loom, I’m reminded of how brilliant he is as an artist not just a craftsmen. When I look around his home, the walls are filled with paintings, prints, and photography. Everywhere you look there is art, traditional and contemporary. It’s not a thematic layout of decoration that can be found in Architecture Digest, but a home filled with great contemporary Native artists that he loves.

Scarscapes
Nadia Myre

We’ll throw out different Native artist names sharing our great fines, like, Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, Fritz Scholder or Terrance Houle. We both agreed that contemporary Native artist get very little attention in galleries, especially in NYC.

Sea Lion Brand with Blue
Sonya Kelliher-Combs

One day we started talking about how beautiful the National Museum of the American Indian was in Washington DC. It’s a beautiful structure. I shared with him a book NMAI put out called “HIDE: SKIN AS MATERIAL AND METAPHOR”. What a terrific book we agreed. Hide is filled with brilliant Native artistic and critical explorations of traditions, critical perspectives and politics. These contributing art have their own point of view of how they want viewed and their work, not from just the perspective of anthropologist photographer Curtis Edwards. The Images and critical essays in this book document the issues face by Native people living in two worlds, theirs and the world outside there culture.

The book is based on a exhibition curator Kathleen Ash-Milby put together in 2010. She put this but together to address skin as an actual art material.