Grateful to spend my Halloween afternoon visiting Paul D’Amato's senior seminar class! Had a great discussion with Paul and the students while showing my work and looking at theirs.
Always the best night of Filter Photo Festival! Portfolio Walk 2013 at the Fine Arts Building. L to R: Pepper Kelly, Sarah Hadley, Jeff Phillips.
Installation of Filter Photo exhibition at David Weinberg today.
Mapping: Borders, Bodies, Memories opens Sept 26.
Filter Photo is just two weeks away! Finalizing work schedules and other last details at Johalla Projects last evening.
Interviewed Curtis Mann for Filter Photo
Curtis Mann is a speaker for the 2013 Filter Photo Festival, at Harrington College of Design. Mann is an artist represented by a number of galleries, including Kavi Gupta Chicago | Berlin, and he has shown his work in a large number of prestigious exhibitions, including the 2010 Whitney Biennial. Mann earned an MFA from Columbia College Chicago in 2008 and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Dayton in 2002. In his latest body of work, Mann departs from geopolitical subject matter to embrace the photographic process at its most fundamental. You can read about his upcoming artist talk on the Filter site here.
Curtis Mann, broken photograph + tuttle, 2013, cut chromogenic development print, 30” x 45”
Julie Leah Weber: Let’s start with a bit of present-day context. You recently moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. How was the transition? I’m sure you’ve settled in with a new studio space and access to prime surfing locations? And even more recently you became a father.
Curtis Mann: The transition went well but looking back, even after only a couple of months, it’s also really been unsettling and a bit confusing. As an artist, so much of what you do is dictated by your surroundings and the physicality and schedule of your process. To use a surfing metaphor, it’s kind of like wiping out and trying to get your head above the foam and water to breathe and orient yourself. Right now I’m still gargling water a little. And then, as of a month ago, you throw the most amazing little girl in the whole world in my arms and, man, it’s a lot to process. Luckily, everything right now is in close proximity: my studio is attached to my home and my surf spot is seven minutes away.
JLW: How would you describe your subject matter and the content of your work?
CM: I like to look at and feel my way around the edges of utility and structure. I’m interested in using destructive processes that alter both physical material and the utility of that material. I’m looking for something else—not necessarily something better, just the experience of discovering new potentials, new realities. I enjoy disruptions in viewing, altered viewing angles, and the sense of touch. I look for final moments of alchemy that are more real than that which pretends to be real. Kind of like feeling and chipping away at the walls of Plato’s cave as an ulterior way of continuing our search for some sort of reality or truth.
I’ve taken this approach with found images, simple monochromatic prints, and recently with my own photographs and common structures such as moving blankets, chairs and found objects.
JLW: In your work there’s a lot of relation, whether formally or materially, to painting, drawing, sculpture, and collage. I wonder if you consider your work predominantly photographic or not?
CM: Those relations come from how I like to interact with materials. When you interact physically with a photograph, that interaction immediately rips it from the flat world of mirrors and windows, permanently placing it in the context of another medium. From there, I usually choose which one of the relations I’m specifically interested in at the time. Depending on scale, presentation, and other formal or conceptual considerations, I’m trying to place the work in the dialogue of sculpture or painting or drawing, etc. In terms of my work being photographic or not, I don’t worry much about that overtly. When you look back on the work, some projects start to lean toward the photographic and some away from it, but I guess in the end they are all grounded in the photographic. They’re concerned with the world through a photographic context and they use a photographic syntax.
Interviewed Martha Schneider for Filter Photo
Martha Schneider is a reviewer for the 2013 Filter Photo Festival and the Owner and Director of Schneider Gallery, Inc. in Chicago. The gallery has been in operation for 24 years at its current River North location and is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary photography. You can read Schneider’s full bio on the Filter site here.
Schneider Gallery, installation view of Mel Keiser and Martina Lopez
Julie Leah Weber: What initially brought you to the US (from Argentina) and why did you choose to settle in Chicago?
Martha Schneider: My husband brought me to the US. He came to do a Residency in Medicine at the Cook County Hospital [now the John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County], thus the Chicago connection. We fell in love with the city and decided to settle here.
JLW: How did you first become interested in photography?
MS: My husband and I started collecting photography in 1970. After a few years some people began inquiring where we found the work, so I directed them to the artists. Then in 1990 I fell in love with Luis Gonzalez Palma’s work and asked if I could have a show for him. He said yes, and that was the beginning.
JLW: Schneider Gallery had been open for 8 years when, in 1990, you made the decision to exclusively show photography. Can you talk about what led you to open your own gallery and later to switch to photography only?
MS: I was spending money on buying art and my husband decided that I had to support my habit! So I started dealing art from home, at first with ceramics and jewelry. Then one fateful day one of my clients woke us up on a Sunday morning because she had forgotten to buy a present for her sister—since she loved what I sold, she rang the bell! That was the end of the home gallery. I opened a space in downtown Highland Park, where I worked for 7 years. We moved to the city in 1989 and so did the gallery. A year later we added the work of Luis, and that really started the photography trend. We were showing work on the walls and ceramics on the floor, plus some cases of jewelry. One day somebody stole from us, so I gave up on jewelry and eventually on ceramics too, and then we became exclusively photography.
Interviewed Rod Slemmons for Filter Photo
Rod Slemmons is a reviewer for the 2013 Filter Photo Festival and an independent curator. Slemmons served as Director of the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago for nine years and was the Curator of Prints and Photographs at Seattle Art Museum for fourteen years. You can read his full bio on the Filter site here.
Rod Slemmons, copyright Joseph Rynkiewicz
Julie Leah Weber: With all the photo-sharing websites and apps available today, photography is more accessible and democratic than ever before. How do you think this has affected the way art is communicated and experienced?
Rod Slemmons: This has happened a couple of times before. The shift from hard-to-make Daguerreotypes to tin and ambrotypes actually made photography a lot easier, but not a lot more interesting. Moving to plastic negatives and paper prints with the innovations of Kodak in the 1880s made photography accessible to tens of thousands more people, but not more interesting. Good art through photography happens when good ideas look around for a medium and land on photography. Or when photography finds itself at the right moment in the right (usually not completely comfortable) place.
JLW: The bulk of jury/review processes for exhibitions have switched to electronic submission. Any other significant changes to how museum and gallery professionals first encounter work? Any major benefits or losses you’d like to speak about?
RS: This is actually the good part of the new digital media. Somebody at Filter Photo or FotoFest says, “Whoa! This is just the kind of thing my friend Rod is interested in”, and I have the work in my email by day’s end. I do urge beginners to read the criteria of submission on museum websites. Start with why you are doing something and talk about how you are doing it only if it is metaphorically supportive. Make sure, for example, that you have a good reason for making giant prints, or gravures, etc.
Visited my alma mater yesterday afternoon to see the Alumni Exhibition. I’m happy to be participating in the show with a couple pieces. Curated by Angela Bryant, director of the O’Connor Art Gallery, the exhibition opened this past weekend on occasion of Alumni Weekend and will run through the end of June.