|curators' statement||january 2008 selection|
r e - i m a g i n e d b o u n d a r i e s
c u r a t o r :  n y u t i s c h h i g h s c h o o l p h o t o g r a p h y p r o g r a m
A Selection by the Tisch School of the Arts, Department of Photography and Imaging's Summer High School Program
This month's web gallery was thoughtfully curated by a group of 20 teenage photography students. The students came from all over the United States, Korea, Italy and Brazil to study in the Department of Photography and Imaging at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. In the program, they receive college level studio and critical studies credits and instruction during an intensive one-month residency. Re-Imagined Boundaries is organized by four curatorial teams and selected from the photo-based works in the Visual AIDS Archive. Each group was asked to work together around the many ideas and meanings related to the theme of re-imagined boundaries. The exhibition concept and curatorial choices were derived through individual and group writing and discussion exercises. As part of their research students also met with professional curators at The International Center for Photography and Aperture Galleries.
Working with the Visual AIDS archive raised the students' consciousness. Through this project, students gained insight into curating as a career, what an archive is and intimate access to a not-for-profit arts organization. Students learned how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and treated, how to articulate thoughts and feelings in relation to images, how to collaborate, and research tools. We would like to thank Visual AIDS for its generosity in providing this curatorial opportunity and the artists in the archive for such stimulating work. We would like to also thank Amy Sadao and Nelson Santos for taking their time to answer students' questions related to the archive, the organization and possible career paths, and for sharing their personal experiences and space with such a large and energetic group of students. This opportunity is one that has and will continue to reveal new lessons learned at different stages in these 20 students' lives.
Many additional thanks to: Jennifer Lehe, Katie Kline, Ariel Goldberg, David Negron, Alissa Ambrose and Lauren Kosinski for their commitment as assistant teachers and mentors to the program.
Co-teachers: Jessica Ingram and Erika DeVries
Student Curators: Christine Pardo, Alex Govenar, Jenna Gates, Hannah Campolo-Rich, Holly Hinman
This collection of images, Angel Borrero's Sex Change (After Duchamp), Derek Jackson's Homo Thugs, David Wojnarowicz's Untitled and Michael Harwood's Trespass (Larry) deals with the idea of re-imagined boundaries in contemporary art. Boundaries can be limits society imposes, physical boundaries, as well as mental or emotional boundaries that are self-inflicted. In each piece, the artist attempts to re-imagine and redefine the limits of his or her respective condition. Many artists challenge social norms, and we as curators have chosen pieces we feel best reflect their statement. The pieces we've selected touch on a wide variety of issues considered taboo, such as transgender, homosexuality and non-traditional forms of art. By openly addressing these issues, the artist forces discussion among the viewers, thus broadening and redefining what is socially acceptable. All of these images clearly represent freedom of expression and open our eyes to new ideas and perspectives.
Student Curators: Molly Tulipan, Latoya Weeks, Jean Suh, Pedro Vianna, Rebekah Bumgardner
What shapes our boundaries? Is it our culture, our family, our age, ourselves? When selecting images from the archive at Visual AIDS, our group strove to understand what creates boundaries, and similarly, what breaks them. We chose images that reflect what limits us and what sets us free, both physically and emotionally. What dwells within a person will often be reflected in their physical state. We grappled with themes that seemed universal in each of our lives: religion, social interaction, social taboos, relationships and American identity. If we can define our boundaries, we discovered, we can then begin to protest them. Each of the artists we selected illustrated these boundaries while similarly offering solutions to overcome them. We chose work including Kermit Berg's Apparitions: Museum, Vincent Cianni's Anthony Hitting on Giselle, Vivien Waiting, Lorimer Street, Williamsburg, David Wojnarowicz's Untitled (Christ), Hunter Reynolds' Untitled Drag Performance and Tracy Silverberg's Leather Obsession (Self Portrait) that illustrate both material and psychological boundaries.
Student Curators: Rin Johnson, Elaine Kim, Alana Schwartz, Matteo Lonardi, Clara Braddick
A boundary is succinctly defined as a line. All around our world we have found lines that we can or cannot cross. We see both literal and metaphorical boundaries placed by friends, families and society. We wanted to take what we saw, and consider the real meaning of re-imaging boundaries. We tried to understand what boundaries were, and searched for work that both rejected and conformed to this idea of limits. We as a team realized that boundaries are placed not just by society, but also by people themselves. We wanted to explore taking away those boundaries, and moreover explore how different people force or try to take boundaries away. We found that artists, like everyone else, try desperately to either force boundaries on themselves or to take boundaries away. More specifically, we wanted to show both examples of subjects or artists embracing who they are, and also hiding behind another identity. We chose different pieces in different mediums that explored identity and dealt with the subject's physical self. The selection includes JD Talesek's Untitled, Carmine Santaniello's Uomo, Bern Boyle's Portrait of Michael Wilson, and Max Greenberg's Medicine Man and Affected and Valued. We hope these works display the two sides of boundary -- both the compliance and the refute.
Student Curators: Rachael Lee, Christian Meitzenheimer, Katie Weinholt, Indonica Hamdani, Nick Tatone
For our selection, we chose Derek Jackson's The Armory Show, Nevin Robinson's Gio, Bern Boyle's Portrait of Michael Wilson, Philip Calkins' Pride Kiss, and Eric Rhein's June Fifth - 1:15 PM. We felt that all of these photographs represented the idea of re-imagined boundaries either through the concept of racism, stereotypes, childhood or mental illness.
Derek Jackson's photograph depicts a white gay man wearing a shirt that proclaims that he loves black men. We thought this photograph was an important representation of re-imagined boundaries because the man, who is homosexual and thus defying those social boundaries, is also disregarding the social boundaries that have created racism.
We chose Nevin Robinson's photograph, which shows a man smoking a cigarette and playing with trucks because he is an older man doing both adult and child activities. The cigarette represents his mature side, but playing with trucks shows his childlike qualities and his vulnerability. He is breaking the male stereotype by showing us his weak side. He is creating a new boundary by showing that not all men have to be conformed to society. It could also be suggested that his childhood has created a boundary for him, which he has been unable to escape. Perhaps this boundary has prevented him from fully becoming an adult.
Bern Boyle's portrait of Michael Wilson seemed appropriate for our selection of photos. Michael has tattoos all over his body and is not afraid to show them. It is apparent he is breaking a boundary by expressing himself through body art. Some parts of society frown upon a display of tattoos so openly shown. He is brave to express himself in such a way that the world does not always accept.
Philip Calkins' photograph is of two men kissing. We chose this because it is breaking boundary through a public display of same-sex affection. These men are brave to be affectionate in public because the world is still very critical about open gayness. These men in the photograph are opening the door for other couples.
Eric Rhein's photograph is of a man hooked up to an IV sitting on a couch with his partner. He appears to be bedridden and in this way, the disease has created a boundary on his life. Because of the disease he is unable to participate in everyday activities that he could have enjoyed otherwise.
b i o g r a p h y
Erika DeVries is an instructor at New York University's Department of Photography & Imaging. The Tisch Summer High School Photography Program at NYU focuses on using photography as a tool of communication, and emphasis is put on the articulation of ideas, creative expression and personal exploration. The students gain the visual and verbal vocabulary to further articulate their interests in relation to creating and discussing imagery. The culmination of the program will be an exhibition of the students' photographic work in the Tisch Gulf & Western Gallery and an exchange portfolio. The course takes full advantage of the creative communities in New York City. For more information visit: http://specialprograms.tisch.nyu.edu/object/photodepths.html. Erika DeVries is an artist who lives and works in New York (www.ErikasWonderlands.net).
Jessica Ingram was born and raised in Tennessee. She received degrees in Photography and Political Science from New York University and her MFA from California College of the Arts. She is included in 25 Under 25, (PowerHouse Books 2003), American Photography 20, and the upcoming Saturday Night Sunday Morning (edited by Deborah Willis). She contributed to What We Want Is Free: Generosity and Exchange in Recent Art (SUNY Press 2004). Jessica's work is motivated by her desire to understand how people relate, what they long for, and what motivates the choices they make. Along with her art practice, Jessica develops and leads community based arts programs, most recently Fostering Art, a photography and writing program for foster youth in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently working on several projects, including a public art commission at the Oakland, CA International Airport. Jessica lives between Nashville, TN, and New York, where she teaches at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and works with PixelPress Magazine. Jessica's work is shown internationally.