Academy Art Museum
August 1 - October 7, 2020
Online Exhibition: July 1 - August 1, 2020
Photography has contributed significantly to the cultural history of the US from the time of its invention as a tool of visualization in the mid-19th century to its establishment as an art form in the early 20th century. Made dynamic by constantly-evolving technologies in image-making, yet in conversation with the historical processes that continue to define its contemporary paradigms, the medium is more relevant than ever as an enlightened tool of critical and artistic inquiry. New Photography II showcases works from across the United States that reveal what is compelling to working photographers today and tackles important questions of representation, truth, materiality and context.
Juror's Statement by Philip Brookman
When I make selections for a juried exhibition I begin with the understanding that my work is inherently subjective. It is not an impartial process but an attempt to find something new within that vast construct we call art. I am trying to mine the works that have been submitted to find the core of an idea, some set of visual clues that will coalesce into a coherent exhibition. I look for an overarching theme, the kernel of an idea, and an enduring vision that will enable us to see and understand our lives in new ways. Each work in this exhibition should give us an understanding of the artist and their world—now and in the past.
I am always interested in how photography can help us understand the notion that the present becomes our past, which represents our history. I used this idea to uncover a number of common threads among the submissions to this exhibition. There were images about people, the land, landscape, nature, people’s relationship to the land, people’s feelings for each other, and their memories.
It does not surprise me that nature, our growing cities, suburban sprawl, and the changing definitions of identity and environment appears in many of the images I reviewed. I was, however, struck by an abounding sense of experimentation in the work, as well as nostalgia—looking back in time at family, friends, the places from which we came, and common histories we choose to remember. Maybe this is a function of our fast growing environment, where great changes occur in less than a generation. We want to remember things as they once were, to hold on to our memories, and use them to address our future. Or maybe this comes from a contemporary embrace of modern and emerging technologies such as digital photography and video, which allows us to reexamine our past and share our lives in new and innovative ways. We live in a technological age in which it is sometimes easier to connect globally and share images across vast physical and cultural spaces than it is to communicate across a room. Consider the impact of Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and now Zoom on how we define our communities and share our lives with others.
The diverse content found in this exhibition was produced by artists who are keenly aware of their surroundings and feelings about the lack of continuity in the contemporary world. Artists today often use the foundations of history, memory, archives, and traditional media on which to construct a new descriptions. Just as we learn about the past from our own family photographs or heirlooms packed away in shoeboxes, these artists create from their experiences and memories. Each photograph here provides a subjective experience for the viewer as well, which helps us consider its meaning through the filter of our own lives.