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

Focusing on the action, not the result

Thursday, 11:09 AM. I’ve basically had nothing to eat since dinner on Tuesday, and slept four hours a night for the past week. I was talking to someone after the crit of the show yesterday, and was telling him that while painting the studio the night before I realized I had never painted the walls for my own show. The thought startled me, I’ve been so busy and immersed in trying to get all prints made, papers written, walls painted and mid board books sent to print (all while trying to keep my personal life from falling apart), that I didn’t realize that the materialization of everything I’ve been working on for the last year was happening right in front of my eyes, and I was an integral part of making it happen, we all were.

Art that was not

When I was 15 years old I went to Paris. It was my first time there so I had researched beforehand all the things I needed to do and museums to go to in order to have the full tourist experience. I had idealized my visit to Paris long ago, but since I didn’t know anyone I decided to try to do that and then take it from there, see where the city took me. I went up to the Eiffel Tower to see the city from above, walked by the shops on Champs-Élysées, sat on a sidewalk café to have a noisette while people watching, walked up Montmartre to see the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, and fought the crowds of people to try to take a look at the Mona Lisa.

I had intentionally left going to the Pompidou for last, I wanted to experience the city in somewhat of a chronological order. A city that has been around for so long is inevitably going to amass huge amounts of history, and going through it in that order seemed logical.


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Art (and making good ramen)

I was walking around the East Village the other day, and since I’d been out all morning and hadn’t eaten anything I was getting kind of hungry. I decided to check out a ramen joint my classmate Kathy told me about the other day. I was talking to her about the one I usually go to (which is good but not the cheapest lunch) and she recommended I try Kambi on 14th. street.


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Family Business

In the summer of 1999 two teenage boys started a fire in an apartment building in the town of Holyoke, Massachusetts. The fire spread and destroyed an entire city block, including a 19th century Catholic church. The owner of the building was sued for 15 million dollars he did not have, and was forced to liquidate his other once successful but now failing business, a furniture and appliance store, the largest in western New England; and at 82 years old, became at risk of being put out on the street.


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