An exhibition and workshop exploring communicating through purely visual means
Slought is pleased to announce "Visual Correspondences," an exhibition of photographs that explore the possibility of communicating through purely visual means, on display from April 19 to June 30, 2011. The project is curated by Eduardo Cadava in consultation with Marcelo Brodsky, and features artists Manel Esclusa (Spain), Pablo Ortiz Monasterio (Mexico), Martin Parr (England), Cassio Vasconcellos (Brazil), Marcelo Brodsky (Argentina), and Horst Hoheisel (Germany). A opening reception will take place on April 19, 2011 from 6:30-8:30pm, alongside a symposium from 6:30-7:30pm featuring the artists and curators in conversation.
"Visual Correspondences" was first initiated by Marcelo Brodsky and Manel Esclusa in Barcelona and Buenos Aires, and then proceeded to include the aforementioned photographers and artists. Using the internet as the means of delivery for the correspondences, Brodsky sent a photograph to one of the artists, who in turn responded with another work. In this way, each photographer or artist would respond to the other's last image, poetically, playfully, and intuitively combining the chance of a ready-made with the complexity of photographic memory and production. The exchanges continued for a certain amount of time and the result was a non-verbal exchange that bears the traces of emotional and intuitive discourses, humor and social commentary, a play of connection and distance, and the creation of a series of "visual correspondences."
The first five correspondences between Brodsky and each of the other five interlocutors—there are now twelve correspondences and the number is growing—were presented in Buenos Aires in May 2009 and will be re-exhibited at Slought. This will serve as the first exhibition of the works in North America. As a transnational, multi-media series of correspondences, the project raises questions of agency, communication, and correspondence, questions about the relation between the visual and the linguistic realms, and about the itinerancy of images in general.
What is a dialogue or correspondence? What happens when these take place in relation to images and photographs? What happens if, when I send an image to an other, the other responds to me? How do we understand what happens if this response is not made of words, but takes the form of a new image? What happens, in other words, when the ritual of sending images is superimposed onto that of the epistolary exchange? Is it possible to believe that the photographer who signs the first image is the same one who signs the exchange's third one, or that the one who signs the second one is the same as the one who signs the correspondence's fourth one? Or is it that each sending from the other alters our way of seeing things? To what do we respond when we respond to a sending, to what we imagine as the "I wish to say" that comes from the other? Is there a first sending, a first word or a first image? Or is it that we always begin in the middle of a conversation, interrupting the murmuring of signs that speak for us, even when we do not expect it and sometimes when we do not even imagine it? Perhaps the very idea of correspondence is a chimera. In this sense, this exhibition is not simply a presentation of work by six international photographers and artists, but a means of exploring several questions at the heart of contemporary artistic debates.
The exhibition and symposium has been organized in conjunction with "The Itinerant Languages of Photography," a three-year research initiative organized by Eduardo Cadava and Gabriela Nouzeilles that will include a companion workshop at Princeton University on April 20th, 2011.
"Visual Correspondences" also serves as the basis for a community-based workshop that invites teenage students from South Philadelphia High School (or Southern, as the school is colloquially known) to engage in a related series of artistic interventions. The South Philadelphia High School students involved in the "Visual Correspondences" program hail from throughout the city (including South, West, and North Philadelphia). Yet all our students strongly identify with South Philadelphia, and either currently live in the neighborhood, or have lived in South Philly in the past. South Philly is a racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse neighborhood, whose composition is changing. The population of students at Southern (as SPHS is colloquially known) reflects that diversity.
As a comprehensive, public high school more than a century old, Southern, too, has changed dramatically since its inception. Recently, Southern made national and international news for racial conflict and incidents of severe violence, exposing a recurring problem in public schools throughout the city. More than a year later, Southern's latest iteration is one of healing, growth, student empowerment, and student leadership, and we envision the "Visual Correspondences" project as part of these developments.
The six students created a safe space in which they could express themselves and discuss each others' photographs without fear of judgment from their peers. By participating in a variety of exercises to build community, students were able to activate their imaginations, exploring metaphor and abstract expression both independently and cooperatively. The diversity in age, interests, academic focus, race and ethnicity, and neighborhoods of our students involved in this project have provided manifold responses to the photographic prompts at hand, and we value these disparate perspectives as they help our students to hone an independent and personal artistic vision.
The workshop is led by Youth Facilitators Neena Pathak and Kate Mollison of Slought. The students are Jazmine Flamer, Rosa Lo, Stacie Robinson, Amber Ticktin, Demetrius White, and Jie Zheng.