Images from “On Photography” at the Art Center Gallery

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On Photography, After Susan

Susan Sontag’s book, On Photography, published in 1977, angered many photographers for its description of an image-soaked world, decades before the internet would channel that stream into the phone in our pocket. Haunted by mortality, photographs, cut into the passing of time; every selfie is a memento mori. As if to refute this unwelcome knowledge, digital images, with their vivaciousness and disposability, repress the sense of nostalgia-before-the-fact which defines the photographic message. The weight of photographs, as Sontag describes them, in meditations often linked with tragedy, is lightened. The vulnerability of the latent image, captured but unprocessed, hardens into certainty.

The exhibition, On Photography collects attempts to resist predictability, unearthing the instability that underlies even the most banal of photographic activities. The exhibition is composed of works that may not read as photographs at all; large photograms made by moonlight, a tabletop covered in dirt removed from a flood site, a cyanotype covered in the history of rituals, faded prints of a woodland religious camp crumbling into a shooting range, a video of indeterminate images. Yet as attempts to trace realities that cannot be fully resolved or known, they speak to to the genuinely elusive function of photography more clearly than more readily decipherable pictures.

Peter Perrone, a close friend of Ms. Sontag was invited to mediate her voice for this project. He has chosen quotations from On Photography and paired them with contemporary stories. In the course of our work, he mentioned that he still dreams about Susan. And perhaps he is not alone. Nearly 40 years after they were written, her observations have become so omnipresent as to seem commonplace; we rely on Freud’s dream language of condensation and displacement keep their implications below the surface.

– Nancy Barton

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Jared Handlesman, photograms exposed with moonlight, automobile headlights,  altered with handheld light sources, and photographic chemistry during development

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(detail)

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(installation view)

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Katherine Bauer, aka Kitty Monteray

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The Veil, cyanotype on fabric exposed during sequential performances

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Projected Materialization, 16mm projector and mixed media

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Elizabeth Hall-Dukin

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DIY Art Festival: Aug 13, 14, & 15

ON SATURDAY

2:00  Companion Planting and Drawing in the Prattsville Community Garden

4:00  Opening for On Photography exhibition curated by Nancy Barton with selections from Susan Sontag’s texts by Peter Perrone

plus live performances, portrait painting, and waffles

Onphotography

6:30  Dinner in the Gallery by Ari Ferdman with Puppetry & Costume Lectures

8:00  Interactive Drone and Punk Music Jam with Dan Evanko, Patrick McGuinn, & friends

SUNDAY

1 – 2   Restorative Yoga in the Gallery

2:00  DIY Workshops – Make projects using Puppetry, Costumes, Zines, and Computer Art

Pupperty workshop

5:00  Field Trip to Mossy Stone Farm to view Forest Inatallation

7:30  PotLuck Dinner followed by Puppetry Performances, Sound & Video Installations created by workshop participants & NYU Students.

MONDAY

2 – 5 Internal Organs:  video documenting, staging, and puppeteering as a group with Ari Ferdman & Friends

Thanks to the Artists, the Prattsville Community Garden, Greene County Council on the Arts, and NYU Steinhardt Art Department

These projects are made possible in part by public funds from the Decentralization Program of the NYS Council on the Arts, Administered in Greene County by the Greene County Council on the Arts through the Community Arts Grants Fund.