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Discussions Concerning Contemporary Photographic Art

Posts from — August 2009

An Interview with Priya Kambli

Kavi (Silver Chumcha), 13x19”, Archival Inkjet Print, 2009

Kavi (Silver Chumcha), 13 x 19”, archival inkjet print, 2009.

Priya Kambli’s exhibition opened today and will be up through September 19, 2009.  There will be a reception in School of Art Foyer for this exhibition, the Annual Art Faculty Exhibition, and the Annual MFA Candidate Group Show on September 4, 2009, from 5-7PM.  We are excited to be showing her work and recently asked her a few questions:

How did you arrive at the format for your image making?

The format happened quite organically when I transitioned from my earlier work “The Suitcase Series”.  In the earlier series I was contrasting objects and images by placing them within the confines of the suitcase’s separate compartments.  When I started working on the current body of work I wanted to continue exploring the idea of creating a whole out of several contrasting elements.  But, for this body of work I chose to focus on working with images alone and eliminate the use of actual objects.

Many of your digital images contain a portion that uses an image of a piece of fabric.  Can you discuss the choice of using the image of fabric rather than the actual fabric collaged into the work?

The simple fact is I wanted these images to be seamless.  I didn’t want the fabrics to have more visual presence. For me, the fabric is just a small part of the whole narration.  Emphasizing it over the other elements would have meant tilting the balance of the narration conceptually.

In your artist’s statement, you refer to creating “convincing fictional depictions” of your new identity.  How do you navigate between your actual identity and the one you are constructing within your images?

Identity to me is creative or flexible, not definite.  In that regard, I’m not sure that there is some real “actual” identity that differs from my fictionally constructed self.  So the image acts like a mirror reflecting that activity of self-realization.

In the United States, photographic art depicting non-Euro-Western subjects is still apprehended as somewhat Other, and in fact, another contemporary photographer, Michael Buhler-Rose, has a series of photographs called “Constructing the Exotic” depicting women of Indian heritage in their new Western locations.  In which ways does your work, either, construct or deconstruct the Other (through the fictional depictions).

The elements considered “exotic” in my work are actually fairly familiar and comfortable for me.  Because I have a kind of cultural double vision I can see that they provide intrigue for the average Western viewer.  I am aware of how I am viewed, but frankly, I don’t know if my work either constructs or deconstructs the “Other”.  I am however concerned with the issue of assimilation and this is acknowledged in my effort to create of a hybrid identity.

Be sure to come by for the reception on September 4 and see the show before it closes on September 19.

August 24, 2009   1 Comment

Camera Lucida


Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography is certainly one of the most quoted and discussed texts in reference to photographic theory today.  The book is certainly worth reading if one is going to attempt to find out what all the fuss is about.  If you’re going to bother reading Camera Lucida, you should also read James Elkins’ response to that rambling text.: Camera Dolorosa is a hilarious and relevant read.

Camera Lucida is often cited, both in Photography Theory and Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before.  I tend to come down on the  Camera Dolorosa side of things, which is to say I find Camera Lucida rather narrow and sentimental (and often a bit silly…).  Many seem to be on the Lucida Bandwagon though… thoughts?

August 20, 2009   No Comments

Reading Roundup

Our first exhibit of the year doesn’t go up until next week, and things are a little slow around here…  If you know of anywhere we should post our Call for Entries, let us know.


What are we reading these days?

Mapping Benjamin:  The Work of Art in the Digital Age edited by Hans Gumbrecht 
and Michael Marrinan
The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Essays by Hans-Georg Gadamer
Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust 

A Legal Primer on Managing Museum Collections, 2nd Edition by Marie Malaro
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith 

Words Without Pictures edited by Alex Klein 
Critical Mass by Philip Ball
The Relevance of the Beautiful and Other Essays by Hans-Georg Gadamer 

August 19, 2009   No Comments

Michael Fried, Walter Benn Michaels, and W.J.T. Mitchell

Readers of this blog may be familiar with some of these names…  Michael Fried recently wrote Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before.  Walter Benn Michaels is quoted by Fried in that book and contributed to Photography Theory (Elkins).  W.J.T. Mitchell wrote, amongst other things, What Do Pictures Want?:  The Lives and Loves of Images.

Fried, Michaels, and Mitchell will be leading Digital Sense: Sound, Image, and Object at the Interstices of New Technology, which will be a very exciting discussion at The University of Texas at Dallas’s Centraltrak Artists Residency Program.  Their website says it will be “a discussion of the effects of new technology on aesthetics and aesthesis, art and perception.”

These three are prominent figures, and it should be a good chance to hear their thoughts and ask a few questions.  October 17, 2009.  4-8 PM.  Be there.

August 18, 2009   No Comments