Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

‘Tripteral’ to show at Sheehan gallery

On Tuesday, March 2,  “Tripteral: Three Photographic Views” goes up in the Sheehan Gallery, followed in the next few days by a series of lectures and workshops related to the exhibits. “Tripteral” is comprised of three separate exhibits all related to photography.  Tripteral is an architectural term used to describe a building supported by three columns. Similarly, the exhibits, like columns, can stand independently but are all related to the same theme.

“All three of the exhibits deal with photography in some way. Each stands by itself as a separate exhibition  but they also function together,” said Dawn Forbes, director of the Sheehan Gallery. “[The exhibits] support this idea of photography as a generative practice and a way of processing issues of culture and memory, history and identity.”

The first exhibition is “Memory Denied: The Photography of Kathryn Cook.” Associate Professor of History Elyse Semerdjian, who curates the exhibition, received funding through the Ashton J. and Virginia Graham O’Donnell Visiting Professorship in Global Studies Endowment to bring Cook’s photography to Whitman. Cook took the photos, which document the Armenian genocide trail, while traveling with Semerdjian, who accompanied her as a translator.

Forbes describes Cook’s motivation for documenting the trail as a desire to preserve and present memories in the face of the Turkish government’s denial.

“There was a genocide that occurred [in Turkey] starting in 1915. [As with] a lot of genocides . . . governmental regimes have changed, revisionists have come in, and now there is a denial that this event ever happened and a lot of the documentation about this genocide has been destroyed,” said Forbes. “So [Cook] traveled the trail following what documentation remains and took pictures at sites as they exist in contemporary times, based on records of places where things had occurred.”

The second exhibition, “Resistance and Rescue in Denmark: Photography by Judy Ellis Glickman,” also deals with genocide. Senior history major Seth Bergeson became aware of the exhibition through the non-governmental organization Humanity in Action, which focuses on human and minority rights. In 2008 Bergeson received a fellowship to work with Humanity in Action, studying human rights and the Holocaust and conducting research in Washington, D.C. at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Bergeson then worked in Denmark, where he found out about the Glickman exhibition. Originally sponsored by Humanity in Action, the exhibition is touring over 150 locations in the United States, France, England, Denmark and Israel.  Bergeson then helped bring the Glickman exhibition to the Sheehan Gallery. Glickman’s work captures the aftermath of Denmark’s attempts to save its Jewish citizenry. The exhibition contains photographic portraits taken of Danish Holocaust resistors and the people they saved juxtaposed with photographs of concentration camps in Eastern Europe.

“We sort of have this contrasting of survival and death, and the difference between what happens when one resists a cultural genocide and when one participates in it,” Forbes said of the exhibit. “It’s very powerful work to have.”

Bergeson sees the exhibit as exemplary of Humanity in Action’s mission to work towards social action.

“[Humanity in Action] is ultimately trying to empower people through these histories [of resistance] to really critically look at history and how western democracies have allowed these horrendous events to happen and how we can prevent them in the future,” he said.

The third exhibition is “Photo-bookworks,” curated by artist David Schulz, who taught in the fall as a visiting professor from Pratt Institute’s College of Art. The exhibit will feature a number of artists’ photo-bookworks from the Special Collections department in Penrose Library, as well as selected prints from the books.

“It’s really a look at what a photo-bookwork is and how photographic images can be read, and looking at the way in which that technology is evolving,” explained Forbes.  “What we’re excited about with his exhibition is that he’s producing a very limited edition artist photo-book catalog to accompany his curation project.”

Schulz’s fascination with photo-bookworks started when he was teaching at Pratt.

“I was teaching photography and graphic design and I started bringing together examples with specific kinds of visual motifs, like a series or an index or a narrative or collage. I started to bring together books to show my students examples of these kinds of motifs, and as I started bringing together more of these books and sort of refining the list I also started finding that a lot of these books kind of embodied visual and verbal experience, not just visual things,” he said.

For Schulz, much of the power of the photo-bookworks lies in the arrangement and composition of the images within the books.

“When you see this kind of repetition it starts to imitate different linguistic conventions. The pictures start to act like words in a sentence,” said Schulz. “I’ve found that a lot of the structures of the pictures within these different works actually determine the meaning of the pictures as much as the representational content that’s within each image.”

The opening reception for “Tripteral” will take place on Friday, March 5 ,following Cook’s lecture “Memory Denied” in Olin 130 at 5:30 p.m.

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