A current display in the Contemporary Art Gallery has raised a few eyebrows and aroused possibly more than just a little curiosity. The exhibit “Technically Intimate” by photographer Evan Baden features images of young adult women in the nude, re-enacting the poses of adult film stars in innocent and private spaces. The idea is to explore and exploit the fact that more and more young women are redefining intimacy by mimicking what they see in social media and on the web. The exhibit has sexually-charged images involving young women with cell phones, digital cameras and webcams.
A while back, I was asked to come and give a lecture about my more recent work at Brazil’s largest photo festival, Paraty Em Foco. The festival is in it’s seventh year, and much of the photo world in Brazil has begun gathering there each year. There were also a number of international guests including Pieter Hugo, Olivia Arthur, and Penelope Umbrico.
PENELOPE UMBRICO’S WORK
I flew there last Wednesday. It is my first time flying south, which is odd because there was almost no time change (or jet-lag), which was welcome. I landed in Sao Paulo and then it was a nice 5 hour drive through the jungle to the costal town of Paraty. I am told it is one of the oldest settlements in Brazil and one of the most beautiful.
TALKING ABOUT MY WORK
The opening of Generation NEXT went really well. MIAD wanted to do a small lecture series in conjunction with the show. So on Tuesday night I was back in Milwaukee to talk about the work I have been making, and the work I am planning to make while here. It was a small gathering in the gallery.
The nicer part of the evening was after the talk. MIAD students wrote small essays about why they wanted to come out to dinner with me after the talk. Six were selected and off we went. It was actually the best part of the night. We were at dinner for a few hours and there were lots and lots of questions asked, both about my work, my professional life, and why I was returning to school and what that was like. Sometimes answering those types of questions for others helps me formulate my own thoughts.
In September I will be traveling to Paraty, Brazil to participate in the Paraty Em Foco Photography Festival. I am quite excited as I have never been to South America. I am hoping there will be some time to see Rio, and I will bring my Polaroid camera along for the ride. I will be there for the entire festival, which runs from the 21st of September through the 25th. I will be involved with two events while there.
First, I will be giving a lecture about my past and current work. I am excited because this will be the first that I get to speak in public about my third series. I am mostly in the planning stages at this point, but hope to be a little further by the time the festival rolls around. There will also be an interview section to the lecture. The interview will be conducted by Felipe Russo, a young Brazilian Photographer. His blog can be found here.
I will also be giving a workshop during the festival. I didn’t want to do a shooting workshop. Mostly because shooting is a very small part of any project for me. Plus, I think it would be pretty boring to stand around and watch me shoot a staged image. So instead I will be focusing on how to research, write about, and plan an extended body of work. Then, after that work is created, how to market it and get it shown around the world. The workshop has already sold out, however, I believe we will be adding more spots as there is still some demand. That was somewhat of a surprise to me.
The image above is the first advertisement for the Festival, whose topic this year is “The Future”. More info can be found here.
Over the last two Thursday evenings I have attended the talks given by the current holders of the McKnight Fellowship for Photography.
In the past, the Fellowship exhibition and talk came two years after the Fellowship had been awarded, even though the Fellowship only lasted a year. In the future, the Fellows will exhibit their work and talk about it at the end for the Fellowship year, which is much more appropriate.
This year, the new organizers (mnartists.org) decided to hold two simultaneous shows and talks so that they could catch up. That means that there were eight artists giving their talks this year instead of the usual four. The Walker hosted these talks over the past two Thursdays.
Out of all eight artists, I found Paul Shambroom’s recent work the most intriguing. I was a big fan of his Meetings series from a few years ago. He has always had a political twist to his work, which I think is why I am drawn to it. However, what was of particular interest to me was how he researched his current project (Shrines) and how similar it was to what I had done for Technically Intimate. Paul was searching for pieces of military technology that had been bought and placed in public spaces. These were done mostly as memorials. He was interested in the idea of using a weapon of destruction as a memorial to those who had died in war, as a result of weapons very similar to those that were memorializing them.
Understandably, he did not want to drive all over the country searching for interesting sites to photograph. So he used the vast resource that is the Internet. He would search on Flickr for photos that had been taken of military memorials. He would then use Google Earth to check out the site before he visited. He also used Google Earth to map out all of the locations for possible photos.
What is interesting to me, both with Paul’s research and my own, is that a vast majority of the project is actually research done online, then a small part of the project is the actual shooting, followed by some post production and printing. Without the Internet, my own work would not be possible (because my subject matter would not exist) and Paul’s would have been much more difficult to have made.
The current exhibitions of McKnight Fellows include: Paul Shambroom, Lex Thomson, Carrie Thomson, Monica Haller, Chuck Avery, Amy Eckert, Gina Dabrowski, and Karl Raschke. The exhibits are being held at Midway Contemporary Art and Franklin Art Works and are up until July 24th.