Beyond the Frame: Image In Action is an exhibition that brings together ten international photographic artists, selected by a reviewing committee for a Photography Research Residency in Paris hosted by L’AiR Arts. Presented at Mémoire de l’Avenir gallery, from October 17 to November 15, 2020, the exhibition is held as a collaboration between the artists, L’AiR Arts, and Mémoire de l’Avenir – the Humanities, Arts and Society and supported by the City of Paris. PCA graduate student, Chris Lee, is part of the exhibition.
The exhibition aims to pose questions about the roles and the responsibilities of images within today’s global society and their power of action, going beyond the space of presentation and representation. Within visual language and as a “signifier”, an image can shift ways of seeing and change perceptions. Photography enables the framing of political, societal, and personal narratives through distinct perspectives, providing insight for viewers to gaze through the photographer’s lens and interact with new viewpoints. In doing so, images call into question the position of the artist and the role they may enact in society.
An image is also an agent of encounters and of dialogue. Its interpretation does not depend solely upon the person who produces it, but also engages the understanding of the person who looks at it. Throughout this cross-dialogue between the photographer and the viewer, an image can open up a multitude of possibilities in the field of experience, thought, and reflection.
The artists included in this exhibition propose narratives and experimental processes that bear witness to current environmental and social issues by seeking to portray the mysteries and overlooked understandings that surround us. In this way, the exhibition sheds light on the links that bring human beings and nature closer together.
In her Salt Pond project, Barbara Boissevain has composed quasi-conceptual images with striking bi- or tri-chromes, by which she engages in a significant discourse on environmental management and the ecosystem of the Ravenswood region in California. Cara Coombe investigates the image of the body in a state of anxiety through her series of self-portraits. She does this by visually manipulating parts of her body to create an abstract representation of the burden and influence of mental illness. In Tokyo Train, Yong Hee Kim looks at the recording of natural phenomena, in particular the interactions between light and speed. He created images that investigate this relationship during a train journey through the suburbs of Tokyo. Candice Inc dives into an archive of images from her childhood, presenting a series of distorted images through which she seeks to articulate her experience of the emotional extremes of bipolar disorder. Chris Lashbrook, invoking the spirit of El Duendeto, elicits strong emotional responses, and engages the viewer in a conversation between naturally-produced colors, light, and forms and the visual abstractions that are possible in photography. Una Laurencic’s work was created around abandoned castles in Estonia. Her images reflect the unplanned and unsettled destiny of the buildings, representing distorted or even delusional representations of these sites. Chris Lee‘s Faux Paris project juxtaposes urban and natural scenes of Paris. The series is drawn from an urge to create empathy between the environment, people, and the impact of urbanism. By bringing together music and dance, in Counterpoint, Valerie Smith creates a dialogue between landscapes, natural forms, and choreography. She questions the influence of our contemplation as much as that of nature on human creativity. Peggy Stevenson has been documenting the City of Chicago since 2008 using colour and black-and-white film. She seeks to capture the energy of the city as well as its diversity and struggles. In Below The Waves, Sofyan Syamsul reflects on sustainability and threats to the environment by exploring the depths of the oceans troubled by human waste.
Photography can be seen as an effective instrument of research and documentation, yet one that is not constrained by the conventional boundaries of “reality”. The photographic medium, as practiced here, allows artists to navigate through poetry and introspection, guiding spectators toward new ideas and imaginings. Passed through the filter of the subjective vision of the author, the photographic image can reach beyond mere representation. The possibility of transcending reality can lead the viewer into a perceptive realm, influencing opinions, changing mentalities, and questioning facts, with the image as a powerful tool for awareness and engagement.
Curators: Marie-Cécile Berdaguer & Margalit Berriet – Mémoire de l’Avenir, in collaboration with Mila Ovchinnikova – Founding Director of L’AiR Arts
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