An outdoor installation by Braco Dimitrijevic featuring photo portraits of unknown persons
Slought and the University of Pennsylvania Department of English are pleased to announce The Casual Passer-By I Met at 3.01 pm, Philadelphia, April 9, 2007, an outdoor installation featuring the work of artist Braco Dimitrijević. This temporary installation takes the form of a gigantic photo portrait of an unknown person, displayed in a public site in a manner of display usually reserved for pictures of dignitaries or publicity messages. In October 2007, portraits will be displayed on the facade of the Freshgrocer Garage (4001 Walnut Street), and from November 2007 through January 2008 on the facade of Fisher-Bennett Hall on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania (3340 Walnut Street). A celebration of the unveiling will take place on Thursday, October 11th from 5:30-6:30pm in multiple outdoor sites near the Freshgrocer garage at 4001 Walnut St. Each site will feature a public conversation with individuals involved in the realization of the project.
The FreshGrocer Garage and Fisher-Bennett Hall have been selected as locations for this project because they are not only important urban landmarks but also principle entrances to the campus of the University of Pennsylvania that respectively bridge University City with West Philadelphia and Center City. Documentation of the installation and the process which gave rise to it will be displayed concurrently at Slought from October 13-December 1, 2007, in conjunction with "The Ways to Post History," a retrospective exhibition on the work of Braco Dimitrijević.
The Casual Passers-By series has been previously exhibited at the Venice Biennale, at the Hayward Gallery in London, at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, along the Champs Elysees in Paris, and at the Museo del Corso in Rome. The artist first began working on this series as early as 1968, when he began to photograph people he had met by chance in the streets in Zagreb, in his native Yugoslavia. The Casual Passers-By project gestures towards the unrecognized creative potential or creative person whose ideas we often miss or overlook. The artist's choice of subject often depends on chance; he chooses the first person who accepts his invitation to be photographed after the opportunity becomes available to make such a work. The organizational negotiations and processes which give rise to the installation of his publicly sited work are part of the work itself.
The outdoor installation is curated by Aaron Levy together with students in the 2007-2008 RBSL Bergman Foundation Curatorial Seminar. Through personal interaction with the artist, critics, and curators, the students in this course will come to understand the challenges and creative possibilities of the curatorial process. This class is one of the first and only undergraduate seminars of its kind in the country, providing students with the opportunity to gain practical and theoretical knowledge about the process of curating an exhibition involving contemporary art at an organization such as Slought. (View the installation process.)
Look around you the next time you are in the vicinity of 40th and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia. Do you notice the billboard-sized photograph displayed on the the facade of the parking garage? What does this image suggest to you?
Please join us for four site-specific conversations about the temporary installation of Braco Dimitrijević's "The Casual Passer-By I Met at 3.01 pm, Philadelphia, April 9, 2007." These conversations feature the artist, project curators, and community members who have contributed to the realization of the project. Participants include Braco and Nena Dimitrijevic, David Brownlee, David Hollenberg, Mark Kocent, Jean-Michel Rabate, Katherine Carl, Laura Heffernan, Michael Howard, and Aaron Levy.
Dimitrijević created the first installment of his "Casual Passer-By" series in 1971, and has repeated this process in cities worldwide over the past thirty years. His pieces utilize advertising media such as billboards, banners and public transit vehicles to display the faces of strangers whom he encounters and subsequently photographs in the street. The vagaries of chance, the whims of history, and the fickleness of celebrity are all suggested by these anonymous yet iconic portraits. Each location provides a different perspective on the interpretation, curation, and production of the work.
Braco Dimitrijević (1948-) lives and works in Paris, France. He was born in Sarajevo in the former Yugoslavia. He graduated from the Zagreb Academy in 1971, continuing at St Martin's School of Art in London. Selected solo exhibitions include the Xin-Dong Cheng Space for Contemporary Art, Beijing, 2006; Galeria Il Ponte Contamporanea, Rome and Galeria Pino Casagrande, Rome, 2006-2007; The State Russian Museum, St Petersburg and Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 2005; Ikon Gallery Birmingham/UK, 2001; Museo Nacional de Colombia, Bogota and Porin Taidemuseo, Finland, 2000; Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle - Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes, Paris, 1998; Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf, 1997; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1994; the Museum Moderner Kunst-Stifung Ludwig, Vienna, 1994; Tate Gallery, London, 1985; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 1984; Kunsthalle Bern, 1984; Stedelijk van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 1979; and Sperone Gallery, New York and Turin, 1975-6.
Selected group exhibitions include Confllict, Slought, Philadelphia, 2006; Open Systems: Rethinking Art c.1970, Tate Modern, London, 2005; Force de l'Art, Grand Palais, Paris, 2005; Big Bang, 2005, Manifeste, 1997, and Magiciens de la Terre, 1989, Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; In der Schluchten des Balkan, Kunsthalle Fridericianum Kassel, 2003; Valencia Biennial, 2001; D'après l'antique, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2000; L'Autre moitie de l'Europe, Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2000; Zeitwenden, Kustmuseum, Bonn, Germany, 1999–2000; Les Champs de la Sculpture 2000, Champs Elysees, Paris, 1999; Global Conceptualism, Queens Museum, NY, 1999; Havana Biennale, Cuba, 1997; The 23rd International Biennial of São Paulo, 1996; SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1995; Kwangju Biennial, Korea, 1995; Rhetorical Image, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, 1990; Life-Size, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1990; Venice Biennale, Italy, 1976, 1982, 1990, 1993; Documenta V, VI, IX, Kassel, Germany, 1972, 1977, 1992; Sydney Biennale, Australia, 1978, 1986; Aspects of British Art Today, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 1982; and the Biennale de Paris, 1971.
"There is no such thing as rupture in creation, but there are ruptures of perception. I am opposed to all stereotypes in thinking and behavior. For instance, the large-scale Casual Passers-by were obviously a resistance to the cult of the personality as well as a critique of certain automatisms conditioned by the media. What I wanted to do was to create a reversal in meaning, and sometimes this has been successful. One woman who went to Beijing in 1975 told me, 'When I saw the portrait of Mao, I thought he was just some anonymous passer-by.' What separates known from unknown is a thin line of convention. [...] Since urban space is so saturated with messages of culture and dominant ideologies, what I set out to do [in The Casual Passers-By series] was to create another space. I have always said, 'Louvre is my studio, street is my museum.' The idea was to create a parallel world, something of a utopia, perhaps. What I intended to create was a counter-model and propose a counter-stance to the existing, dominant thought. I recall, for instance, that Casual Passer-by on the Boulevard Saint-Germain des Prés in 1971 was, statistically, seen by five million people a day as they walked by. About five of them understood what it was all about. The ambiguity that lies between the five and the five million is interesting. Five million people minus five were perturbed by the fact that there was a portrait there."
-- Braco Dimitrijević, Interview with Jean-Hubert Martin (2005)