Indepth Arts News: |
"Create and Be Recognized: Photography on the Edge"
2004-10-23 until 2005-01-09
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
San Francisco, CA,
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts presents Create and Be Recognized: Photography on the Edge, a show exploring a long overlooked aspect of outsider art—outsider photography. The seventeen artists surveyed in the first-ever outsider photography show range from luminaries such as Howard Finster, Morton Bartlett, Henry Darger, and August Walla, to lesser known artists like Alexandre Lobanov and C.T. McClusky. Encompassing various techniques such as collage, photomontage, and manipulation/tableau, the unifying theme among the artists is their compulsion to create. While extremely prolific, the artists represented in the exhibition often lack any formal art education, and although hugely ambitious in their work, almost none had an interest in the art marketplace.
Since most of their work was never intended for public consumption, its inclusion in the show and the fact that it is being presented posthumously, is of no coincidence. Create and Be Recognized is a rare opportunity to study their creations.
These unschooled artists often times did not have direct access to a highly technical medium such as photography. They instead made innovative and unexpected work using found images and employing experimental techniques. Create and Be Recognized challenges the boundaries that define photography. “The Center supports projects such as Create and Be Recognized to acknowledge the work of artists who otherwise would be left unrecognized and uncelebrated for no other reason then their lack of participation in the formal art world. The Center strives to demonstrate that vitality and vision comes from many sources and, often, from private, sincere individual inspiration,” says René de Guzman, visual arts curator for Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The show is divided up into three sections: Collage, Photomontage, and Manipulation/Tableau. Collage referring to affixing photographs or photomechanical reproductions to a background; photo-collage referring primarily to photographs cut and pasted together to form a new whole, and works based on manipulation, including multiple printing, hand-coloring, and/or staging the subject to be photographed.
Create and Be Recognized transcends all conventional expectations of photography. It includes the work of visionaries such as Morton Bartlett, a Harvard-educated photographer with an obsession for creating the ultimate family photo album, Lee Godie, an artist on the streets of Chicago who used a Trailway-photo booth as her studio, August Walla, first institutionalized at the age of 16, who spent most of his life in a mental hospital for schizophrenia and Richard Shaver, a science fiction writer who documented extraterrestrial images found inside of rocks. This intimate glimpse into the realities of these outsider artists reveals a unique and sometimes obsessive existence. Through their enigmatic expressions, one senses the secret characteristics that shape their work.
Guest-curated by Deborah Klochko, former Director of The Friends of Photography, museum educator and independent curator, and John Turner, an art historian and scholar in outsider art, Create and Be Recognized sheds light on amazing work by those outside of the photographic mainstream. “Deborah and I feel extremely privileged to have the opportunity to present these intriguing and provocative bodies of photography-based work to the larger art community and hope its exposure will enlarge the medium’s borders,” says John Turner. While some of the artists are well known for their work in outsider art, the show highlights their lesser known works that include photographic elements. The singular passions, marginalized mindsets, and extreme circumstances experienced by this group, make the exhibit fascinating and not to be missed. The freshness of Create and Be Recognized will help us look at contemporary art and photography in a new way.