news release: Staged to Present Complex, Orchestrated Photographs at the Akron Art Museum
For Release: April 23, 2015
Akron, Ohio—“Staged,” a new photography exhibition featuring works in the Akron Art Museum collection opens Saturday, May 2. “Staged” presents the work of artists who go to great lengths to fabricate or manipulate the scenes in front of their cameras. They design, construct and direct complex theatrical environments in order to realize their artistic visions. The resulting photographs often address broader truths about human experience through imagined scenes.
Curator Elizabeth Carney says, “The photographs highlighted in ‘Staged’ invite us to consider the boundaries between reality and fiction and the value of both. We’re excited to give visitors the chance to discover the stories told in each of these images, and investigate how staged narrative photography can speak to larger issues, just as literature, film or theater often does.”
The artists represented in the exhibition create images that are infused with their personal passions and also speak to broader social concepts. Samuel Fosso, Cindy Sherman, Yasumusa Morimura and Carrie May Weems address issues of gender, race and cultural identities in photographs that feature themselves as performers enacting various identities. Other artists, such as Sandy Skoglund and Spencer Tunick, explore humanity’s relationship to nature in dreamlike scenes, while Eikoh Hosoe and Joel-Peter Witkin explore personal and collective histories that combine references to historical events, mythology and folklore.
“Key to the exhibition is a vibrant, surreal photograph by Sandy Skoglund,” Carney said. “Skoglund developed an arduous staging process in the late 1970s to produce astonishing images, well before the invention of the photo editing software that we take for granted today. To create ‘Revenge of the Goldfish,’ she crafted and painted 120 terracotta fish by hand, densely arranged in a life size set she constructed, and directed human models—all specifically for the lens of her large-format film camera. The resulting photograph tells parts of a story, and viewers are encouraged to fill in the details.”
Like Skoglund, many more photographers in “Staged” work as sculptors, building sets and props. Several of the artists perform character roles in their own photographs, donning costumes and personas. They all take on the role of director, arranging their scenes and instructing actors just as one would direct a theatrical production or film. Humor and beauty mix with unsettling imagery and uncertain endings in this showcase of work from the Akron Art Museum collection, with two additional works loaned from a regional private collection.
Elizabeth Carney will host a free gallery talk about the work on view in “Staged” on Thursday, May 7 at 6:30 pm.
“Staged” is organized by the Akron Art Museum and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ohio Arts Council.
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