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"Modern Views of Egypt: Contemporary Photos of Egypt"
2001-10-23 until 2002-01-27
Oriental Institute, University of Chicago
USA United States of America
This exhibition includes 25 images from four contemporary American photographers, Linda Connor, Lynn Davis, Tom Van Eynde, and Richard Misrach, who have worked in Eypt
during the last two decades. Each photographer had a fascination with the desert landscape and Egypts ancient monuments. Each was
challenged by how to respond creatively to subjects, some of which have been made familiar through countless photographic images, but
which, nevertheless, continue to inspire them.
These photographs are selected from the
permanent collection of Chicagos LaSalle Bank. The exhibition will inaugurate the Holleb Family Temporary Exhibits Gallery, part of the
ongoing renovation of the Oriental Institute galleries.
Gene Gragg, Director of the Oriental Institute, commented that the photographs, while being important works of art, add an important
perspective to our display collection and to the overall mission of the Oriental Institute. Photography has always played an important role in
our scholarly work, and it is a fascinating contrast to see Egypt through the lens of a artist rather than from the viewpoint of an
archaeologist. The images, taken by some of Americas foremost photographers, range from dramatic images of pyramids and sweeping
views of the monuments of Luxor to images that juxtapose ancient monuments and modern life.
The twenty-five photographs were selected from the LaSalle Bank Photography Collection, which was founded in 1967. It is one of the
oldest corporate-sponsored collections of photography in America. Now comprised of over four thousand photographs, the collection is
exhibited on a rotating basis at the LaSalle Bank headquarters in Chicago, where it serves not only the employees and the customers of the
bank, but also the community at large. In 1993, the Bank embarked on an informal program to acquire photographs that reflect how
nineteenth and twentieth century photographers have portrayed Egypt, its people, and its ancient monuments. Thomas C. Heagy, Chief
Financial Officer, ABN AMRO North America, and Vice Chairman, La Salle Bank, commented For years, the bank has been interested in,
and supported, the work of the Oriental Institute. Our collaboration allows a greater number of people to see this extraordinary collection, in
a wholly appropriate setting which is unique to Chicago. Sharing the photography collection as much as possible - through arranged tours,
lectures, loans to other art institutions, and publications insures its vitality and demonstrates the Banks commitment to the idea that creativity
is a universal springboard - in business as in life.
The photographs of Linda Connor echo most closely the nineteenth-century images of Egypt, in great part because of her use of a large
format view camera, not much different than that used by the earliest photographers in Egypt. She contact prints her 8-by-10 inch negatives
on printing-out paper that is toned to various warm gray or red-brown shades that are reminiscent of early photographs.
Lynn Daviss primary frame of reference is the work of the nineteenth-century photographer Francis Frith. Working with a hand-held
rolliflex camera that produces a two-inch-square negative, Davis enlarges her negatives to a final print size, often as big as four feet by four
feet, that is meant to reflect the monumentality of the subject.
As a member of the Oriental Institutes Epigraphic Survey from 1987-1993, Tom Van Eynde was responsible for producing highly technical
photographs of the monuments, his lens never more than five feet from the wall surface. In stark contrast are his panoramic views that allow
him to place monuments within a broad topographical context.
Richard Misrachs photos were made as a conscious prologue to a larger, multifaceted series titled The Desert Cantos. The use of color
film, and the juxtapositions of ancient and modern subjects underscore the fact that his pictures are contemporary and, as a consequence,
An illustrated catalogue, entitled The Angle of Repose: Four American Photographers in Egypt, by Sarah Mc Near, Director the Museum
of Contemporary Photograhy, Columbia College, Chicago, is available at the Oriental Institute.