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September 03, 2007


Yiting Liu

Review of the Photography Lecture by Gillian Laub
Yiting Liu 

The photography lecture given by Gillian Laub was held in Chazen Museum of Art on Jan. 24th as the initiation of a four-month-long exhibition of Southern Rites, an over a decade long artwork. This artwork was triggered by a letter wrote by Julian to Spin magazine in 2002, which moved her to visit the town, Vidalia, Georgia, due to the complaint about racially segregated proms. Only visiting the town for 2 days, she met Harley, who was the chair of the white people prom at the time and who refused to talk about race. She then realized that this is only the beginning of her project to learn more about the community. When she later returned, she started to understand the community. She did not surrender when faced with obstacles: being kicked off the prom, being threatened by the white people community, and being physically attacked and threatened by the sheriff of the town. This personal experience of powerlessness marks the moment when she needs to tell the story in the form of a movie. Moving on, she started to do more than photography, she has been involved in the activities in the community. For this project, Southern Rites, Gillian went back to the town and interviewed the people multiple times while learning more about their stories such as the riot to take down the segregated prom and homecoming. 

Through the lecture, what impresses me the most is her curiosity and bravery in investigating and understanding the tension between the white and black people in the community. She shared her way of telling stories and discovering the narratives by interviewing people, infiltrating the community, and understanding the reasons behind the actions. The stories behind each photo she shared in the slide show for this lecture were very moving and valuable, given that she chose to quote the interviewees for Southern Rites. She wants to let their voices heard. The way she introduced the person(s) in the photo takes me to the exact moment when she and the person(s) interact. Her photos and the lecture are serious that she educated people about this place with racial issues and some deeper that needs to be alerted in the form of photography and movie. 

Yiting Liu

I went to Cache by Sarah Stankey on Monday, March 25th for her show Cache. The show presents her understanding of wildlife, the preserving of the wildlife, and her connections with the wildlife through her curious exploration in terms of self-portraits, collections of specimens, and historical archives. I like the nature of interactivity of the show as well as her self-portraits.
The props, background drop, and rabbit legs are to be touched, the rat is to be examined with a probe, and the book is to be read only if you put on gloves. The interactivity of her show makes it more interesting as the audience gets to place themselves in being other people. This is exactly the theme of Cache in her self-portraiture.
For her self-portraiture, I was struck by the self-portraiture by Sarah and how she uses the costumes and props she collected throughout the years to create a representation of a character. I dwelled most of my time on the photograph – A Gourmet Meal. The colors are coherent in a way where the pastel colors are in the upper half of the image while the slightly more contrast color is on the lower half of the image. The floral pattern in the background, as well as that on her dress, echoes the flower to her left. It is very soothing to look at without being too jumpy when my eyes move to the feast. It is more like a painting to me. Her expression is very interesting to look at although this piece is titled as A Gourmet Meal, the gourmet herself is not as pumped about it, making this piece more interesting since there is a story to it for the audience to explore.
Her show is a success in my opinion since the interactive activities audiences can do coincide with her theme where she puts herself as somebody else in her self-portraiture. This technique of inviting the audience to have a deeper understanding of her approach in her art is very brilliant.

Erika Aoyagi

CACHE: Sarah Stankey Master of Fine Arts Show

What was most interesting about this exhibition compared to any other exhibition I have been to was that I actually knew the artist personally. I feel that factor is huge in means that it affects how you view the work, how you view the artist, and what you initially gain from the exhibition.

Seeing Sarah in class, I would have never depicted her as a hunter let alone a person who could produce such art that included animal skin and preserved insects. It was also the first time I was surrounded by such death. My initial impression was neither good nor bad, just taken aback. Being unfamiliar with the hunting way of life, it was interesting nonetheless to see how animals are preserved and created into works of art through Sarah’s eyes.

The part that I most enjoyed about her exhibition were her self portraits. I am a little biased because photography is something that I can relate to the most. As a photographer, I understand the challenges of taking self-portraits so with that knowledge I can only appreciate the precision that is carried out with her work. The attention to detail, composition, expression, framing, and colors is exceptional.

Subject matter aside, the way she presented her exhibition was fun and enjoyable for a wide range of people. She had pieces that you could interact with, take pictures with, and touch. Although art is best preserved in glass boxes, the fact that she trusted her audience enough to let her artwork be interactive, it also shows a side of Sarah that is not directly shown in her work.

Great job Sarah!!

Erika Aoyagi

As a part of the photography team of the student organization, ALT Magazine, I was fortunate enough to attend a private lecture by the esteemed Darcy Padilla.

Darcy Padilla started her lecture by introducing who she was and the work that she has produced over the years. She has been featured in many prestigious newspapers and magazines and is currently a member of Agence VU. Her most recent project, “The Julie Project” has been recognized for multiple worldwide awards. She was also a major photojournalist during the 2016 elections following multiple presidential candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, President Donald Trump, and former President Barack Obama.

It was an extraordinary experience to be able to have a small one-on-one discussion with such an amazing, famous photographer. The hour that the photography team spent with Padilla was not enough for the knowledge that she had to share. Even though time with her was very brief some things that she mentioned still stick with me today.

1. Know how to look back, then zoom in.
When photographing for the presidential campaign Padilla expressed the utmost importance of this rule. It is important to capture the subject in question but also using the background context to further the strength image is what makes a difference between a professional and amateur photographer. So many of her images capture the complete environment of the conventions and rallies without having the full stadium in the image. The details that she is able to capture in an image relies on the fact that she seems more than what is in her viewfinder.

2. Cherish connections
Even though press pass is supposed to allow all access to events that you are photographing, especially at highly controversial events, it is possible that it is the thing that keeps you locked out. No matter where you go, who, what you are photographing, be kind and cherish the connections that you make because you never know when that relationship will be beneficial.

3. Spontaneous photographing is as important as staged photography.
Though the styles are polar opposites sometimes the most “spontaneous” photographs are staged. It is important to capture the metaphor you want to address, create a story with your image, and work different angles. Something Padilla said that stood out was “don’t always take the picture that is expected.”

Through this lecture, it has made me want to keep challenging myself and pushed me to reach deeper and understand the difference between a hobby photographer and a professional photographer.

Zoe McCartney

Photography Lecture Review - Gillian Laub
Zoe McCartney
Art 376

Let me preface this paper by saying that I really wanted to like this exhibition. I really wanted to like Gillian Laub (my very first “college photography lecture”! And by a woman who went to this same school! How exciting!) and I really wanted to enjoy Southern Rites, to have my eyes opened to the realities of American society and the raw beauty of good, old-fashioned, boots-on-the-ground photojournalism. I went into it with heightened expectations and a sweet sense of hope and excitement and that one might be on me -that might be my fault- but, honestly, I felt kind of underwhelmed. Southern Rites was a concept I was open to exploring and being taught about but I left the lecture (and the exhibition as a whole) feeling the teensiest bit betrayed. I didn’t feel “official” and “artsy” like I had hoped but, rather, I felt like I had just sat through a presentation of a white lady recounting a time when she pushed her way into telling a story (someone else’s, I feel I should add) that made her feel important.
Perhaps I misunderstood. It's possible that I mistook her pride in her hard work for a pride in a reinforcement of societal expectations and advantages. I hope that’s what happened.
Gillian Laub’s presentation was mostly a semi-formal talk-show interview about the journey she went on to “document” the segregated proms that were still being put on in the South. The head honcho Chazen lady guided her through her tale of danger and intrigue and, in the end, I felt like I hadn't learned much of anything aside from these three things: 1) If you want to find a story, sometimes you really just have to push your way into things--people will thank you for it later when you bring the story out of the context of the community. 2) It's possible that galleries are more interested in the story of a body of work than in the visual quality of the art itself. 3) When I get disappointed, I get cynical. None of these things were exactly new or shocking discoveries.
After she was done recounting her tale, she opened the room up for a few questions. Because she had yet to talk about the art side of things, I asked her (much more respectfully than I might be leading you to believe with the tone of this review) to speak a little more about her photographic process. She didn’t say much. She mentioned that she went back to shooting in film after digital and did hardly any editing. She then moved on to the next question. It was kind of a meh experience. I hope my experience of this lecture has merely been tainted by time but as it stands, it feels like a lecture and a show that I could have skipped and been perfectly fine.

Jacobo Kirsch

Things we collect. Sarah Stankey’s MFA exhibit review
Not always things that you collect make sense, nor does they interact with each other. However, things we keep are personal and inherently have an emotional aspect. In very rare times those objects interact so well with one another. Stankey’s exhibit does the last. Her MFA exhibition created a homage about her years long objects collection. Her creation of art by interacting with object and leaving the evidence of that with a series of portraits, makes the very extravagant, distinctive objects she possesses work together as one.
Every portrait she created was so unique and detailed to the core, in which she would create self-portraiture in very interesting and creative ways. From dressing herself as a hunter and pointing a rifle to the viewer, to wearing animal fur and look excessive, she portrays herself in very contrasting and emotional series of photographs. One notices that her work is personal and her objects have sentimental value that represents different perspectives of her life experiences.
One of the aspects that were unique of the exhibit was the ability to interact with many objects part of the self-portraiture. One as a viewer could become more than that and actually immerse itself in the world of the artist. While going through the things and the art made from them, one was able to give a new personal and distinctive interaction to them. At the same time the “active viewer” was naturally getting closer to the life of the owner.

Jacobo Kirsch

Naturally artificial, Xiaoyue Pu experience review

The colorful and surprising series of portraits of Xiaoyue Pu brings out the question of how human beings interact with nature. As the pictures look complicated in structure and composition, by dividing its features, one can notice simple notions of connections and relations between subject and the surrounding space. While, with a simple glance the photographs look like both people are trying to clash with nature, in a deeper look, they are conveying the opposite. The dichotomy between humans and nature can be seen in this project as one of the strongest ideas presented in the series of photos.

At a first sight, the subjects look as a disturbance to the environment. However, both subjects are trying to relate to the space they are part of. The strangeness of the subjects appearance feels as a representation of the complicated interaction between humans and the nature world, sometimes clashing, other times joining forces. For instance, both subjects utilizes objects, clothes, make-up that employing primary colors onto themselves. This basic color spectrum makes the people portrayed in the pictures look vibrant and intrinsically rudimental. These connection makes one allude to coming back to the roots of humans, before industrialization. As they try blending in nature, they are using these three colors, very different from green, contrasting, just as if they were the flowers. The two subjects’ dresses hinted these, as both use floral patterns.
Meanwhile there is a strong relation between subjects and nature, the use of plastic objects makes one imagine the antithesis of human nature interaction. Currently plastic is considered one of the most dangers to the environment. Therefore, one can assume that the utilization of plastic objects is bringing the commentary of the detriments of human-environment relation.

Claire Embil

I attended Gillian Laub’s Chazen lecture about her photography exhibition Southern Rites. This lecture was interesting to say the least. I don’t feel like I learned anything though. Laub entered into Montgomery County, Alabama as a self-proclaimed photojournalist to photograph the County schools’ segregated proms. The non-violent racism she saw soon turned violent when a young Black boy was murdered by an old white man.
I think that her photographs are mediocre. They look like prom pictures. I don’t think that I would be able to tell that these were segregated proms had she not prefaced the images as such. Most of the United States isn’t integrated on more than paper. Milwaukee, Wisconsin is the most segregated city in the US. I don’t think that her work is as groundbreaking as she made herself seem.
I will commend her however for continuing to photograph outside her comfort zone in the face of much backlash especially from the teens parents. It takes courage to be a photographer and tell a story that you know will cause outrage when it comes out.
However the story she told and the way she told it in the lecture screams White Savior Complex to me. She didn’t talk about her work in this marginalized rural community like she was a guest. She talked about it like she was a hero exposing this horrible phenomenon. On a personal level, I am also bothered by journalists whose activism ends at the front of their lens. Taking pictures to expose the problem is not enough. I wanted to hear her talk about how her time in Montgomery County inspired her to join a coalition or start a foundation.
Overall, I was disappointed in her actual photographs, her approach to her photographs, and her lecture. It wasn’t the worst, but I wasn’t impressed. I was disappointed with this white artist who came into black communities and profited from their story.

Melissa Grusczynski

On April 12th, I attended the Southern Rites exhibit by Gillian Laub, at the Chazen. This exhibit revolves around Laub’s work, photographing segregated proms in Mount Vernon Georgia, which sparked great controversy after her photos got published in Times Magazine. Everything about this exhibit blew me away, and it was so incredibly powerful that it almost brought me to tears.

In the first section of the gallery were photos of teenagers in their prom attire, couples and people by themselves. The photos that resonated with me the most in this portion of the gallery, were the ones of biracial couples because it really highlighted the problems that were taking place. Next to the photos there were blurbs that explained the stories of the subjects, and it was interesting to read how the biracial couples were only welcome at the black prom.

The following part of the gallery was all about Justin Patterson, a 22 year old African American who was shot by an older white man, for interacting with his daughter in their home late at night. Although the photos were powerful, considering it included a portrait of his daughter, the video installation is what really intrigued me. It was heartbreaking to hear the story of how the shooting occurred, and to learn that the man who shot Patterson walked away from the crime with only a year sentence in the state penitentiary. This part of the gallery enhanced the idea that racism is still extremely prevalent in the south, and hinted at the movement Black Lives Matter.

I really loved everything about this gallery, especially the ending with the room full of cutouts of people dancing. The music playing overhead set a somber tone, and it was an interesting aspect to add glass on some of the cutouts so that I could see myself. Overall, this exhibition hit on the issues of racism and inequality really well, and everything about it was moving.

Karissa Dohm

For my artist lecture, I went to Xiaoyue Pu’s opening performance for her exhibition “The Secret Garden” on April 26th. Although the performance was abstract and was difficult to pull meaning from, it did have a general feeling of discomfort, especially when the performers started interacting with the audience. From what I could tell, the performance was set to bring the onlookers into the Secret Garden and display the atmosphere which is present. I got the impression that the performers were reacting to, or controlled by, the sounds that were being played. When the sounds stopped, the performers started speaking and interacting with the audience, making it personal and intimate by stating their names and shaking hands with audience members. It was also clear to me that the performers were meant to represent a broad variety of cultures, as I noticed at least three languages being spoken, although they were all saying the same general thing (Hello, my name is __, welcome to the Secret Garden). At the end, they handed the pieces to members of the audience, who then, without explicit instruction, placed one canvas on each easel that was set up, which included the audience in the mind-control which was happening to the performers.
Of course, this is all conjecture, but this is the impression I got from the performance. As for the exhibition itself, it felt a little unprofessional, especially at the beginning. The start was delayed a couple times, it started and stopped a couple times, and the performers had to stand there for at least 10 minutes due to the delay (I felt bad for them). Once it officially began, it felt a little under-practiced and unpolished; however, all the performers seemed eager and, if they weren’t, didn’t lead me to believe so. I thought it was an interesting performance, although, overall, I’m not quite sure how it related to the artwork itself.

Claire Embil

On January 29th, I attended a Gallery 7 exhibition of digital photography images by Maryam Ladoni, titled “Mail for Apartment no. 445.” She begins her artist statement by telling her audience, “This is a poem about home.” Ladoni then goes on to describe where she came from. She was a child of a war torn Iran and would often find comfort in her father’s stories about the United States. As she got older she was forced to watch people she loved leave their homes in the wake of economic and social hardship. She too dreamed of being able to leave, and in 2017 was finally granted that opportunity. Unfortunately, she realized that even in leaving her home she could never really leave her home. Ladoni recalls her father saying to ther, “We are forever war-torn.” In this new and foreign place, Ladoni uses her camera to write a poem about looking for home in everything all of the time.
First, I want to say this this work is brave. I want to commend her for the courage to write this emotional photographic poem. It tells a brave story that so many people in America can relate to. My critics should not take away from that fact.
That being said, I as an outside viewer felt as though this show lacked some cohesion. Some of the images like Home (2), Retired, and Mail for Apt. No. 445 clearly communicated the ideas that Ladoni expressed in the artist statement. I could see her looking for home in places it should be but might not always feel perfect: like a bed, a reclining chair that is ironically outside and her own mailbox. There were other images that I felt like did not communicate the idea of home like Carrying a city, A pair of legs, Nest, and Complicated (2). I think those images are all eerie and creepy. The depict garbage dumps, mannequins, and broken dolls. Some of those subjects were mentioned in the artist statement as things that Ladoni would often see around her neighborhood, but I still don’t think that they show home. It is possible that Ladoni is trying to show the audience that the home that she came from clearly wasn’t rainbows and sunshine as it was war-torn, but these other photographs don’t say war-torn to me. They were frightening, but not in the way that war and refugee status is frightening. They were reminiscent of ghosts or something else haunted. It is possible that they could also be trying to show the audience that her new home is also far from perfect, but in her artist statement she refers to the States as a Promised Land. The body of work gave me mixed signals about it’s message.
I understand that as an outsider looking in on Ladoni’s brain child I may not be interpreting the intended message of her work correctly, but art is about impact not intent. We may not see the art as the artist intended but it’s about how it impacts us. I felt the beauty of Maryam Ladoni’s work. Each image on it’s own was expertly crafted in areas like composition, tone, and texture. The talent of the artist is clear in each frame. I have no critiques to offer about the actual photographs themselves. They are exceptional, but not as perfect when placed in a show together. However, the very creative idea that this work is intended to be a poem is communicated incredibly well.

Genevieve Capolongo

I attended Sarah Stankey’s exhibit named “Cache.” At first, I did not know what to expect, the advertisement seemed very dark and kind of creepy due to the skull. However, after seeing Sarah’s work, the advertisement for it describes it perfectly. The exhibit was not at all creepy, but objects that Sarah had collected over the years. What I found most interesting is how she constructed the pictures based on the object she had collected. I really enjoyed the photographs that she had of the food (this is not just because of my love of food). I had talked to her about her process of creating the pictures, specifically, the props and backgrounds and Sarah had said that each image took hours to create. This adds to my appreciation of the work and time that had gone into the images. They also give way to Sarah’s personality, not only as an artist, but as a person. Because each image embodied an object she herself collected, it ties her to the work as well as the object revealing something of her character. Each object in the images, represented a different part of her personality from food to the animal fur that she collected. Something that I also found interesting was that she took pictures of herself with the objects she collected. This also tied her to the work as it revealed more to her characters. Not only were these objects that she collected for her work, but they were objects that she was inclined to collect for herself. Overall, I enjoyed seeing Sarah as a character and person in a different light outside of the classroom.

Genevieve Capolongo

I went to the “The Secret Garden” by Xiaoyue Pu. Although the reception was centered on Xiaoyue’s photograph’s there was a performance that went along with them. It was a very interesting performance. When you first walked into the building in the middle was a table of plants with (what I thought) were letters that formed a word (from what I could guess). When the performance started, the performers were wearing black morph suits with their faces covered. Because of the literal name of the costume they were wearing the color of it, it allowed them to be ambiguous. In other words, the performers, morphed into any general idea that the spectator wanted them to be. This was specifically demonstrated when they walked around and introduced themselves in different languages. At that point, they could’ve been anyone from anywhere, they were not confined to their identity. This is why I thought it was so hard to understand the underlying message of the performance. Because it was not clear what the performers were, I was very confused during the performance. I did not understand what they had to do with the images they were carrying and walking around with. I, also, did not understand why they put the images down when it was being performed. To me, in order to connect the images to the performance, they need to be included in them. The performers, did, at the end, give the images to random spectators, and as the performers walked away, the spectators slowly put the images on their stands. What I liked about this is that it gave the power to the spectators. When it comes to photography and other art mediums, order matters, the fact that the spectators got to choose the order was powerful. I’m not really sure if they actually had the chance to choose the order of the pictures though because the performers showed the spectators the order before giving them the pictures. They also gave the pictures to the spectators in a specific way such that the images correlated to where the stands were. Do people really have the free will to decide? I thought that was a very powerful statement.

Brad Pierstorff

I attended a reception and performance put on by Xiaoyue Pu titled “The Secret Garden.” The performance centered around several prints taken by Pu with each being held by a performer in a black morph suit. As the performance started, all the actors put down their respective photos and proceeded to move around a collection of plants centered in the room to abstract and obscure sounds in what appeared to be a trance-like state. Once the sounds ceased, the actors began to act more independently. Each said “Hello, my name is…” in a variety of languages and the actors began to move about the room and shake the spectators’ hands. Eventually the sounds began to play again, and the actors went back to the trance-like state. They retrieved several stands to place the photographs on and reclaimed the prints they had placed on the floor earlier. Each of the actors eventually gave a member of the audience a print that they, in turn, placed on a stand. The whole performance was very odd, and I could tell it was meant to inspire some unease and anxiety. The inclusion of the morph suits added greatly to the performance as they obscured the wearer’s face completely. To not have a face to look into when being greeted by an actor was very strange and interesting. I also thought it was interesting how the audience was able to, more or less, choose how the photographs would be displayed at the end of the performance. By handing each one of the prints to a spectator, a tremendous amount of control was given to the audience. A lot of times in events like this, the order that a group of images is presented in matters significantly. It was a fascinating concept to allow the audience to control such a vital part of presenting a group of photographs. One thing that I didn’t understand, however, was how the images themselves related to the performance. The images that were used in the performance were just portraits of two different subjects taken in what looked to be a garden. The images did not obviously depict subjects from many different ethnic backgrounds either. As a result, the whole performance of the actors seemed to have very little relation to the images that were presented. I think it would have been interesting to have a performance that could be more strongly linked back to the images, but I did enjoy how the performance got the spectators interested in the photographs. It was an interesting way to present one’s work for sure.

Brad Pierstorff

I saw Sarah Stankey’s exhibition named “Cache.” The exhibition contained a variety of objects in addition to the photographs that she had taken. There were hand bound books, props used in the photos, and even a preserved dead mouse on display for people to look at and interact with. I was definitely surprised that the exhibition contained objects to interact with; I thought that the exhibition would solely be photographs. To have this level of interaction in an exhibition is a really good idea because it definitely helps keep one interested in the whole collection. There is a sense of exploration that I got while attending this event. You constantly wanted to find something more to interact with and look at. As for the images themselves, I thought several were interesting. Most of the images had elements of nature that worked to bring the collection together as a whole. There were a few images, like the hunting ones and the picture involving some Kentucky Fried Chicken that didn’t seem to fit as much in an obvious way; however, once one thinks about the images more deeply, it is clear that the nature elements are still in them. For example, even though one of the hunting images appeared to be shot in a studio, hunting is something that is still tied to the great outdoors. The vast majority of the images presented were self-portraits. I found many of these images interesting. They were clearly staged images, but I thought that this suited the collection well. Many of the set-ups for these pictures were elaborate and Sarah clearly committed a lot of resources to setting everything up the way she wanted. The fact that she is staring directly into the camera in many of the photos also invokes a feeling of seriousness that keeps the viewer grounded in reality. I found myself thinking about things like food and about where it comes from. This collection made me think about how that piece of chicken you would get from KFC was actually alive at one point in time before being served to you as sustenance. I found “Cache” to be a really neat exhibition that contained many interactive elements that also provoked many thoughts about humanity and its intrinsic connection with nature.

Emma Byers

I went to the Southern Rites photography exhibition by Gillian Laub. I was blown away by these portraits. I really like this sort of lifestyle photography that has an element of staging to it. In almost every picture the people were in direct contact with the camera and staring right into the lens. I felt that this really captured the story even more because they were saying so much with their eyes. You could see the sadness and hope and love in all of the different photographs. He captured the young people in a really powerful way that made them look very strong.

There were many photos that were composed in a very interesting way that really drew me in. I liked the first photograph when you walked in “Prom King and Queen, dancing at prom.” Everything besides the girl's fancy nails and the ring was out of focus. The little details of Prom are what makes it so special. As a young person, there are not many times in your life before this that you get to dress up and act like a princess. It makes you feel special to look so beautiful and you could see how happy that it made the girl and boy as they shared a special moment together on the dance floor.

I also really liked the photo “Seniors arriving to first integrated prom.” It was captured in a way that some of their faces were in it, just the movement of them walking towards the camera. I found this very powerful. I think that using people’s faces can sometimes be an easy way out of capturing a storyline. By just using bodies and more the message can still come across in an even more interesting way.

Overall I just really enjoyed looking at these pictures. They were all so raw and real. The colors popped so much on the pictures it made them feel super crisp. I definitely recommend checking this exhibition out.

Emma Brandt

Photography Lecture Review: Monica Haller

Having the opportunity to listen to Monica Haller’s lecture at the colloquium was fascinating and true to itself. Her work extends beyond the basis of photography and deals with subject matter that mirrors her own interests. Focusing on both environmental and human structure, Haller creates work that is highly dimensional. A prominent theme across her work is her strong connection to her roots in Louisiana. Speaking a lot about Louisiana as well as the Mississippi Delta and her explorations, Haller discussed how land can be affected by issues of value, ownership, and colonization. There is so much history embedded in land, and it is interesting how she uses this idea to widen her practice. What is especially engaging about Haller that sets her apart from everyone else is how she captures her work using more than just a camera lens. Incorporating various mediums, she does not limit herself in any regard. One way she does this is by recording audio of the Mississippi River. Using sound brings so much life to her work, providing more context to her photographs as well as her experiences traveling. By utilizing meaningful concepts and expressing them in an engaging way, viewers are given a new perspective of how photography can be considered. Haller’s documentation in all areas exemplifies dedication and authenticity. It was nice to hear about all of the different projects she has been involved in over the years. There is something very durational and progressional about her work and in expressing topics like land and roots, Haller truly redefines what being a photographer means.

Emma Brandt

Photography Show Review: Southern Rites

Gillian Laub’s photography show, Southern Rites, presented at the Chazen Museum of Art speaks a strong, much needed message that everyone should listen to. Upon entering the exhibition, there is an overwhelming sense of emotion all around. Visitors are guided through the gallery space by the powerful photographs centered around segregated Georgia community proms. Each photo tells the candid stories of people and their experiences dealing with the actualities of racism. Laub does not hold back when it comes to her photographs, showing everything with honesty and genuineness. The incredible realness she displays is necessary toward the notion that there is still progress to be made. Southern Rites communicates not only the impact of racism but how it continues to affect society today. This powerful message is ongoing throughout the entire exhibition. Embodied within photographs and memorabilia is a raw and heartbreaking truth. The exhibit documents the segregation of high school proms as well as acknowledges the pain experienced along the way. By recognizing issues of racism, violence, and inequality, Laub’s work encourages conversation, which is immensely important to her message. The world still has a lot to work on and Laub reminds us of that. This exhibition is captivating the whole way through and a piece of the message leaves with every viewer. Southern Rites captures photographic honesty in such an impactful way, impossible to forget.

Emma Byers

The presentation I went to was by Monica Moses Haller.

I really enjoyed this presentation. It was really interesting how she combined photography, audio, video, and research. It was clear how passionate she was about what she was talking about. She showed us a picture of a huge live oak tree that was really stunning. It looked interesting because only the middle section of the tree was in focus. I liked how that looked because it kind of made the tree look a bit out-of-this-world and like it might not be on Earth. The pictures she showed were also edited in a very interesting way a lot of her pictures had interesting depths of field. She also her pictures edited so there were lots of cool blue undertones, which is something that I like to do with my pictures as well.

She talked a lot about how collaboration and research are very important to her. She did not want to take credit for everything she did and frequently mentioned that people that she worked with and what they did for her projects. I think that research is something very important to photography and many people don’t realize it. You can’t capture something accurately unless you know information about it. She did a lot of work in Louisiana, where she said that she was from. It was clear how passionate she was about her work because it is about where she came from. She captured how hurricane Katrina affected the land in Louisiana. This is such an interesting thing to capture because before she was capturing the beauty of an oak tree that was really important to her, but she could also capture the destruction and still make it look like a pleasing picture. She talked about taking ownership of the land and how important family is. This is how you could tell how passionate she is because she kept bringing these ideas up. She also had really interesting pictures of the Mississippi. I liked these because the water looked so interesting because the picture was clearly taken with a long exposure. They all had really interesting textures.

Nina Besl

The lecture I went to was honestly a lot less photography-centric that I’d hoped. Monica Haller discussed various large projects, including creating underwater soundscapes and a large veteran book project. She shortly discussed a tree she’d take photos of, which was fairly interesting. She photographed up close, creating an almost octopus like effect with branches spraying out towards the edges of the frame. She chose a short depth of field, which caused a strange blurring on some of the tree limbs. I didn’t personally care for the blur, but it did add a feeling of mystery to the piece. She chose to photograph this tree repeatedly to explore the solidity of oak trees. These trees are some that stand tall for decades or centuries, through floods and winds. I think photographing these trees over a few years despite the fact they stay the same visually is an interesting concept, though the photos don’t differ much visually. Overall, Haller’s speech wasn’t a personal favorite of mine, but it was interesting to hear about her various projects.

Nina Besl

I’ve made a handful of photographer friends in the past 7 years or so. One of the most successful of them is my friend, Max Goldberg. He’s currently shooting for and modeling for the Rock modeling agency here in Madison. He hosted a small exhibition of his recent work a few weeks ago entitled "Agency". His work is largely studio, with occasional on-location shoots. The work he displayed at this show focused on expressions, both of the face and the body, as well as the way people express themselves though fashion. His work contains muted colors, models in everything from leather jackets to sundresses to just about nothing at all. He’s been working in the studio for years now, and his current work is some of his strongest. The ambiguity of the expressions in the models creates a sort of thoughtfulness to each and every image. Though composition remains simple, each image and pose has its own striking presence. He utilizes simple backgrounds, but he displayed the images with the darkest to lightest backgrounds on one long wall, which created a really dynamic way to view them. Overall, his show was a presentation of how far his work has come, and represented the level of professionalism he’ll continue to purse in his art career.

Melissa Grusczynski

On April 10th, I went to a photography lecture given by Monica Moses Haller, who specializes in photography and video making. Throughout her speech, she discussed many of her older and current projects, to try and give us insight to the type of artwork she does.

Something I found especially interesting was her work she is completed in Louisiana where she photographs trees to try and channel what said trees and the land has witnessed over time. Haller began photographing trees, specifically live oaks, when she was just 19 years old, and her passion only grew from there. She was fascinated by the way they grew, and how they were able to withstand floods. Connecting these trees to her family history became an important aspect of her everyday work, and eventually was made into a book. A quote from her book she shared that especially stood out to me was, “when the floods come I climbed the trees.” For some reason this quote resonated with me, and really emphasized her emotional connection to the trees.

Another project that Haller shared with us was her work on the Mississippi river, collecting sound bites of the river and the life that lived in it. This project consisted of putting a mic out on the river to pick up sounds which created a composition. Headphones were set up along the edge of the river, which allowed people to listen and become involved.

I find Haller's work extremely interesting, and I enjoy how she connects her projects to her own life and everyday people. Woking with multiple types of media can be challenging, but Haller seems to excel in what she does, creating an interactive environment for her audience.

Kennedy Fitzgerald

I attended a lecture delivered by artist Monica Moses Haller. She is a multimedia artist who does a large majority of her work in New Orleans. The primary focuses of her work are on the nature of memory and issues of race. Her grandparents were originally from Louisiana and her grandmother was Creole, and therefore considered to be a black woman. Due to discrimination they faced for their interracial relationship, they moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her grandfather and mother traveled down to New Orleans every summer to work and some members of her family remained there.

During her visits to New Orleans something that always fascinated her were the trees that have been around for 600-800 years. She has been shooting these trees for 18 years. One aspect of these trees that she finds so compelling is the fact that the trees seem to resist being captured by the camera. Their massive size and the intricacy of their roots are too large to be contained in a single shot. Focusing on memory, Haller directed a project called the “Veteran’s Book Project”. She helped veterans, people who were in Iraq at the time of the war, and people who had lost family members in the war collect images and archives to create memory books. These books were then installed in museums.

Kennedy Fitzgerald

I went to an exhibition in Birge Hall called the Secret Garden by Xiaoyue Pu. It consisted of several performers dressed in black morph suits hiding their features. They each held a print of the photographer’s work and displayed them and interacted with them in various ways including placing them in different locations and running around them or handing them to members of the audience. Ambient music played and the performers went through a series of moves including walking and crawling and writhing on the floor. Performers also interacted with the audience by introducing themselves in various languages and welcoming watchers to “The Secret Garden”. The performers then exited and gave the people in attendance the opportunity to view the prints up close.

The subjects of the photos were women with accentuated features through the usage of highly pigmented red and blue makeup used on the eyebrows, eyelids, and lips. The setting for the photos was within a greenhouse, and the models were surrounded by plants and greenery. I feel that by displaying Asian women in such a natural and stunning way, this artist is working to combat western standards of beauty. By highlighting the models’ decidedly non-eurocentric features, Pu is emphasizing that those characteristics are not at all necessary to be beautiful.

Amanda Zhang

I attended a lecture given by Monica Moses Haller, where she talked about her past and recent art projects. While not all of it was photography related, the ones that were are very interesting.
The first photo project she talked about was her idea to give veterans a book to tell their story. She designed the books while authors were in charge of content within the book itself. Looking at some of the book covers, there is a distinct theme to their covers while still maintaining an individualistic style that really let each book stand out on its own while still fitting in with the other books in the series.
Her most interesting photo project to me was her long term project of capturing a live oak throughout her life. The massive branches and roots of the tree resist being framed by a camera no matter how hard Monica tried. She not only focused on the tree itself, but also the waterline visible on the trunk that marks the passage of time throughout the tree’s life. Finally, Monica mentioned how she took photos of the tree in segments to learn about what the great live oak sees from its own perspective.
Some of her most recent work incorporates text into photographs in order to tell a story. She uses variations in white space, placement, and size of text to give each photo character. While she did not mention future plans, Monica is a very gifted artist with big ideas about the world.

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