news release Akron Art Museum Presents a Closer Look at Paper with Its Upcoming Photography Exhibition PULP
For Release: January 19, 2016
Akron, Ohio—The Akron Art Museum will present an exhibition of photographs that features artists’ conceptions of paper—a material common to everyday life, even in an increasingly digital age. PULP, which will be on view from February 27 through July 31 2016, showcases photographs from the museum’s collection that explore the aesthetic value of paper ephemera in abstract compositions, conceptual investigations and cultural critiques.
Assistant Curator Elizabeth Carney said, “Because paper is relatively cheap and recyclable, it is one of the most adaptable and common materials of modern culture. It is made into novels, newspapers, magazines, advertisements and various other products that can offer rich and malleable subject matter for artists once they have been discarded from their original purpose.”
Some artists take interest in the images or text printed on discarded paper. PULP features two photographs from Richard Misrach’s unsettling Playboy series, which focuses on two issues of the iconic American magazine that the artist had discovered on a shooting range, riddled with bullet holes. Though the targets were the women pictured on the Playboy covers, advertisements and other images within the magazine were also punctured. As Misrach described, “The violence that was directed specifically at the women symbolically penetrated every layer of our society.”
Work by Tom Young reflects his experience of investigating a paper recycling mill, where he discovered piles upon piles of outdated materials waiting to be recycled. Stacks of the same torn and rumpled glossy advertisements, such as the ones we may see in popular magazines, call attention to the repetitive nature of images used to sell products or lifestyles. Similarly, Judith Golden photographed parts of her own face obscured by faces printed in magazines, highlighting the limited beauty standards and ideals offered to women through the media.
Other artists approach discarded paper as its own object, incorporating it into abstracted compositions. Similar to abstract paintings, Aaron Siskind’s photographs of paper peeling away from walls focus on value, texture and shape, rather than recognizable images. Abstract work of Siskind’s friend and colleague Harry Callahan also features in PULP.
Newspaper plays a role in many of the images in the exhibition. This particular type of paper ephemera—the most rapid vehicle for printed, time-sensitive communication—is recognizable in a variety of cultural contexts. Pavel Banka, working in communist Czechoslovakia in the early 1980s, used a sheet of a government-circulated newspaper to create a motion study, ignoring the publication’s exact content.
To create a series of surreal images Gloria DeFilipps Brush inserted regular objects into miniature-scaled domestic spaces. This group of photographs, called The Christina Suite, is dedicated to the artist’s close friend, who at the time was suffering an unremitting illness. For DeFilipps Brush, a tightly rolled newspaper signifies unknowns. “The contents of the newspaper could be earthshaking, or quite mundane. At the time the image was made a newspaper might have been the first announcement of some cataclysmic event one might have had, or just another newsday.”
These and other photographs in PULP span several decades, styles and approaches to the medium, but they share a connection to the humble and ubiquitous piece of paper. When recycled, scrap paper is milled into a pulp and then pressed into fresh, blank sheets. PULP highlights another type of recycling, in which artists create new images from discarded or insignificant fragments of modern life.
Visitors can find out more about the artwork featured in PULP on Thursday, April 7 at 6:00 pm. Assistant Curator Elizabeth Carney will present a gallery talk about the exhibition. The talk is free and open to all.
About the Akron Art Museum:
The Akron Art Museum, dedicated to enriching lives through modern and contemporary art, showcases regional, national and international art created since 1850. The museum’s collection is presented in a spectacular facility designed by Viennese architectural firm Coop Himmelb(l)au and includes over 5,000 works of art, with a strong focus on contemporary painting, sculpture and photography. Nearly a dozen exhibitions each year present prominent artists in various media including painting, sculpture, photography, video, design and glass.
In addition to its ever-changing collection and exhibitions, the museum offers many opportunities to Live Creative through programs that include films and video, lectures, workshops, tours and concerts.
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