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Indepth Arts News:

"Acting Out: Invented Melodrama in Contemporary Photography"
2005-09-05 until 2005-12-31
Neuberger Museum of Art
Purchase, NY, USA

The exhibition Acting Out: Invented Melodrama in Contemporary Photography explores significant contemporary photography that features fabricated melodrama, characterized by pathos, over-wrought emotion, moral polarization, nontraditional plotting, and extraordinary events. Curated by Kathleen A. Edwards, University of Iowa Museum of Art Curator of Prints, Drawings, Photographs, and New Media, Acting Out is a lively display of 31 works by 13 artists who investigate melodrama as an aesthetic system of representation influenced by literature, theater, film, media stills, and historic photography. The exhibition will be on view at the Neuberger Museum of Art from September 4 through December 31, 2005.

“The photographs gathered for the exhibition contain all the elements for feature-length, no-holds-barred movies to unfold in the imagination of the viewer,” notes Ms. Edwards. “The contexts of the photographs were preconceived by the photographers, who functioned like directors collaborating with a team of actors and crew. Within these fabrications it is largely the presence of melodrama, a pervasive if under-acknowledged aspect of narrative, that makes the exhibition photographs, and those like them, hit home,” Ms. Edwards says.

Artists in the exhibition include Tina Barney, Gregory Crewdson, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Anna Gaskel, Tom Hunter, Simen Johan, Justine Kurland, Laura Letinsky, Sharon Lockhart, Adi Nes, Cindy Sherman, Yinka Shonibare, and Janina Tscaape. Many of the images in the exhibition refer to popular cultural images. The artists combine the initial perception of these images with new implications accumulated over time, and make use of the long-standing language of melodrama to explore and comment on how we create meaning from a single photographic image. The viewer recognizes and relates to the plot lines of these photographs through a familiarity with a range of melodramatic forms.

Acting Out has been organized and traveled by the University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, IA. A 50-page color catalogue, distributed by University of Washington Press, accompanies the exhibition, which includes an essay written by Kathleen Edwards. It is for sale in the Neuberger Museum Store. The exhibition has been organized for the Neuberger Museum of Art by Dede Young, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Philip-Lorca diCorcia
IGOR, 1987
Type C print
Courtesy Pace/MacGill Gallery, NY /
©Philip-Lorca diCorcia

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