Posts tagged with "Photography":

Photography Tour: Historic Theaters of Downtown Baltimore

Tour downtown Baltimore for fascinating stories and photography tips with photographer Amy Davis, author of Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters. Explore the revival of the historic Hippodrome and Everyman theaters and ponder the fate of other grand picture palaces on the city's west side, the Stanley and Mayfair. Bring your smartphone or digital camera and snap away as you walk along the route. This program complements the exhibition Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters. One-day Museum general admission pass with tour registration fee, which grants access to all exhibitions. Valid through November 30, 2019. Rain date September 28. $25. Pre-registration required. Space is limited to 15 people. Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. Online registration for this program closes at midnight the day before the program.
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India’s Subterranean Stepwells rise at the Fowler Museum

India’s Subterranean Stepwells: Photographs by Victoria Lautman University of California, Los Angeles 308 Charles E. Young Drive Los Angeles In a show at UCLA’s Fowler Museum, Chicago-based arts journalist Victoria Lautman explores the hidden beauty of an elaborate building type originating in India: the stepwell. Built throughout the subcontinent’s warm, dry regions for the past 1,500 years, stepwells allowed communities to store water from monsoonal rains. These monumental stormwater management systems were built in both Muslim and Hindu architectural styles and served as sites of worship and gathering. Lautman has visited more than 200 stepwells over the past 30 years in an effort to document their importance and ensure their survival. Organized by Joanna Barrkman, senior curator of Southeast Asian and Pacific arts, the exhibition includes 48 photographs taken by Lautman with a point-and-shoot camera, and is arranged in clusters that focus on specific architectural details. Further images, along with GPS coordinates for each stepwell, are included in Lautman’s 2017 book, The Vanishing Stepwells of India.
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Peter Lang on Cristiano Toraldo di Francia's 'incredible love'

Cristiano Toraldo di Francia sadly passed away on July 30. Cofounder, along with Adolfo Natalini, of the Florentine Radical design and architecture group Superstudio, Cristiano was the kind of person who was incredibly open-minded, shared a sharp sense of humor, and professed a deep love for humanity. While accolades spread across the internet following news of his passing, there was a lot to Cristiano that didn’t make it into these postings, tributes, and memorials. What might have been most lacking in all these accounts was the way he shrugged off fame and shunned formality. Yet he never wasted a moment, had infinite stamina, and to stick by him you needed to react fast and move quickly. Cristiano was a perceptive and ever-present photographer, and it is thanks to him that so many historical moments during their superlative adventure were captured for posterity. When I asked him about how he got into photography, he spoke about his father, Giuliano, who was a renowned physicist, recounting an odd story about how he was introduced to his first photo-camera. As Cristiano told me, in an interview at his house in Filottrano back in 2005, his father “…designed lenses for Ducati, at that time they made electronics—now they´re making motorcycles. They made cameras, radios. And they made a micro-camera, which anticipated the cameras of today, instead of the normal 35 mm film --24x36mm, they were using 24x18mm film, so it was fantastic. Italy was poor at the time, everything had to be reduced! Cristiano couldn’t help make a quip about the States, and while proudly acknowledging that Italian technology was inventing incredible things that were “almost too advanced for their time,” in America “everything was big—big cameras, big cars. But that camera was a jewel... Just to say that since I was a child I was initiated to the mysteries of photography—the images coming out of the acids, of the paper.” Probing further, I asked Cristiano what his relationship was to the burgeoning Florentine fashion industry in the early sixties when he was a professional photographer. “I was making family portraits at the time to raise money. In Florence, there is a big tradition around the Alinari family that besides all the city portraits,” now in the Alinari Archive in Florence, “they shot a lot of family portraits, but these were like paintings, all retouched, like Photoshop. “They were perfect photographers- so this tradition was present. I was trying to do a very different kind of photography. I looked more to the American model. A journalistic kind of picture, Diane Arbus... Not so much Man Ray or the historical ones.I became quite successful at the time. All these noble mothers came to make photos in my studio. After a while, I was asked to do fashion photography, but after a while, Superstudio started and I quit. But of course, I had all the contacts and all the people- I was friends with Oliviero Toscani for example,” who would go on to make the controversial photographic campaigns for Bennetton. With his usual irony, Cristiano pointed out that he also worked as a fashion model, for the kind of magazines that were constantly referencing architecture. It’s hard not to talk about the origins of the Italian Radical movement without getting into influences, of which there were many: “We started…” as Cristiano clarified in that same interview, “…on parallel levels, looking at Archigram, but even more we looked back at Dada and then to Pop-art that was bringing the Dada methods up to date. Fluxus—breaking boundaries and being completely interdisciplinary, fluctuating from one activity to the other. But on the other hand, Archigram had this political information as background—for which we could say maybe we were more idealistic than them. They were more pragmatic, more Anglo-Saxon.” Dan Graham connected his generation to Rock and Roll, and given the times, it is clear that music played a considerable role for Cristiano. When I spoke to Cristiano about music when we met in December of 2002, he had this to say: “When I talk about the importance of music, we don’t deny having discovered a person like Bob Dylan, or the Beatles, it was a time when popular music reached great artistic levels, Laurie Anderson, the whole group of Fluxus, back then there was a system of self-propulsion, in every field…” What is critical in understanding Superstudio is precisely this level of mixing passions that the art and architecture curator Lara Vinca Masini referred to as “contaminations.” Cristiano stabbed at this point by bringing in Aldo Rossi: “Yes the work of Rossi and others was interesting, but it was always inside a discipline with few confrontations with the world that went much faster than their own reasoning.” Getting back to the Florentine music scene, Cristiano credited his father with exposing him to experimental music when he was beginning university. In a conversation I had with him in 2005, Cristiano remarked: “My father was a scientist, and as a scientist he was traveling a lot and, in a way, disillusioned and relativistic. He was asked in 1963 to become president of the young contemporary music association. One of those members was Sylvano Bussotti,” a Florentine native, musical polyglot and noted dandy. “One was Giuseppe Chiari,” the atonal musician, close to John Cage and a member of Fluxus, “and the other was Pietro Grossi,” a Venetian electronic musician and composer living in Florence. “I remember they were making concerts of electronic music, and one concert was in the Conservatorio di Musica Cherubini which is a traditional music conservatory. And after 10 minutes of this music people went crazy.” Evidently, for this generation of young architects living in Florence in the sixties, these were incredibly stimulating years. Superstudio detoured around the traditional tools of the architect, experimenting with alternative forms of expression and representation. When Emilio Ambasz showed up in Florence around 1971, scouting for ideas for the upcoming exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape for MoMA, the young curator was seeking out experimental “environments.” These would be full-scale prototypes for living, accompanied by films serving as animated captions. Yet I wanted to know just how Superstudio produced this project, what kind of technology was used to build this elaborate environment and how did they create their 12-minute film Supersurface. The main backer for the environment was the manufacturer Print but they also had to procure other funders, due to the elevated expenses. According to Cristiano, they found the supplies they needed in Florence, the special reflective glass and the electronic components key to simulate alternating moods of day and night inside the environment. It took 15 days to manually assemble it before the show opened in New York on May 26th, 1972. The movie was instead made during the winter of 1971- 72 and it was filmed in 36 mm. “I worked on that with Sandro Poli,” the Superstudio member officially present between 1970 and 1972, “we found the music, made the soundtrack, with the professional help of a guy who made advertising for TV (Marchi Producers), who had that mentality, and in fact, we wanted it to be projected as if it would be an advertisement for the Supersurface. The first part presents in a scientific way how the thing is done, and the second one tells how happy you will be living there.” In fact, both making the environment and directing the animated film were very labor-intensive hands-on processes. I asked Cristiano what role the Italian manufacturers had in producing Superstudio’s concepts. Cristiano’s response was that these factories were mostly made up of artisans. “That is why we managed to make a series of objects from very different things and from really different materials. Most of these objects are coming out of a kind of bricolage. The factory made almost nothing—we had to find artisans who did the different parts. The industry would just put the parts together. We were doing a kind of bricolage Cheap-scape—as Frank Gehry would say—for the industries.” The Italian design industry seemed to work as an artisanal chain assembly. But what was still not clear, was why did these manufacturers get behind a group like Superstudio to make things that worked against the idea of mass consumption? Why would they sponsor designs that were against their best interests? “We thought these objects we were making were a kind of trojan horses that coming from inside the system would produce criticism, which means creativity, which means refusal, or incredible love. They were objects of poetic reaction for the people. They were not mass-produced, they were in little series, multiples, like works of art.” To this day I still think about Cristiano’s trojan horses, and his incredible love.
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Amir Zaki explores broken space and empty skateparks in Empty Vessel

Photographer Amir Zaki is turning his lens towards "California concrete"—empty skateparks—for his upcoming exhibition at the Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion on the campus of Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. The uncannily clear images of the undulating bowls and ramps of the parks, while ubiquitous in Zaki’s Southern California, exist as alien landscapes outside the expectation of what you’d typically see outside your window.  Zaki unites both his bodies of work, photography and ceramics, in the upcoming exhibition Empty Vessel, which will run at the Doyle from September 19 through December 5. Using with a GigaPan attachment, a device that creates the same effect as a long exposure shot on film for his digital camera, Zaki took 50-to-60 photos of a scene or detail, and stitched the disparate takes together into one high definition image. The result is eerie, hyper-real prints, not dissimilar to the multiple exposures taken by architectural photographers to fine-tune the perfection of a space.  Hanging on the walls of the Doyle are these laser-sharp images of skateparks as sculpture or land art, accompanied by images of colorful broken ceramics. Destroyed by Zaki in his backyard, the visual juxtaposition of the different scales of "vessels" in the gallery is intended as a commentary on architecture—spaces and emptiness. The broken ceramics and the early morning, skaterless skateparks are brought out of the context of their accepted usefulness, purely just existing, as Zaki’s lens focuses our eye on the spaces they create. The idea of both the ceramics and the skateparks being vessels has to do with their sunken earth nature—while the ceramics are formed from the earth, fired, and then subsequently broken by the artist on his concrete back patio, when skateparks are devoid of skaters they become just concrete forms sunken into the earth. They are the reverse of high-rise contemporary urban architectures, scooped out forms of concrete instead of soaring roofed structures. However, while skateparks and their odd manmade topologies are not meant to be inhabited, they hold people and culture. While the cracked ceramics can no longer hold water or smaller objects, they still create dynamic, jagged spaces in Zaki’s eye. Shot from the bottom of the bowls and looking up at ramps and rails, the chosen perspective gives the parks an authority over the photographer as well as the viewer. It is as if they are inhabiting the space, taking time to understand and occupy a place that is usually seen as a fleeting blur atop a skateboard. Skateparks were not meant for human inhabitation or celebration, and neither was his ceramic earthenware. Zaki has sustained a unique interest in architectural subjects throughout his career, notably in his earlier collection of candy-colored lifeguard towers, titled Relics (2010). Using digital manipulation, nonhuman scale or horizonless perspectives, Zaki makes his built environments appear subtly irrational, made to be seen not experienced. He presents us with buildings that exist for themselves, not for us.  The juxtaposition of the ceramic shards can be read as a visual way to explore and question the origins of architectural form-making. The skatepark is like a shard of a building, no longer enclosed and warped at the edges. Yet it is still a functional piece, a place where the fringes meet. A broken jar may no longer hold water, a roofless building may not be an office. But architecture can be broken, shattered, and reclaimed. 
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L.A.'s Getty Museum will dedicate an entire exhibition to Notre-Dame

Coming soon to the J. Paul Getty Museum is a single-gallery exhibition dedicated to the legacy of the most famous piece of medieval architecture in the world. An Enduring Icon: Notre-Dame Cathedral will be on view starting July 23rd in Los Angeles as a tribute to the French landmark and its global staying power despite the massive fire that ravished its iconic roof.  Organized by Anne-Lis Desmas, senior curator of the Sculpture and Decorative Arts department, the showcase will feature paintings, photographs, engravings, and rare books that highlight the history of the 850-year-old cathedral. “The artworks on view in this special installation," said Desmas in a statement, "elucidate the importance of this ‘majestic and sublime edifice… this aged queen of our cathedrals,’ as (Victor) Hugo called it, from its contribution in the Middle Ages to its restoration in the 1800s.” Getty Museum director Timothy Potts said that the recent fire sparked a newfound global appreciation for the architecture itself, which is why the institution is moving to put this collection on display now. “We thought it appropriate at this moment to illuminate the artistic and cultural impact that Notre-Dame has played in European history, drawing on the rich holding of the Museum and the Getty Research Institute.” The Getty Museum, established in 1974, has long been an authoritative research and conservation institution, as well as an education center on Grecian, Roman, and Etrurian art. In 2006, the museum’s sister site, the Getty Villa, opened in Malibu to house and showcase some of the Getty’s 44,000-piece collection, including ancient antiquities, drawings, sculpture, and decorative arts. The museum also boasts a large stock of global photography dating back from the invention of the camera through contemporary times, some of which will be on display in An Enduring Icon through October 20th. 
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Keris Salmon explores the Architecture of Slavery

“When I arrived there I was a journalist. And when I left on that very same day I became an artist,” said Keris Salmon, an African-American visual artist, describing her visit to a plantation that her white husband’s family had owned for over 100 years. “I couldn't leave without making something out of it.” What she made out of it was a print portfolio titled We Have Made These Lands What They Are: The Architecture of Slavery, a collection of 18 prints that were displayed as part of Pulled In Brooklyn at the International Print Center in New York City, which ran through June 15. Keris has since visited dozens of plantations across the American South, and taken photographs of the structures that remain, from the rough wooden siding of former slave cabins to the lace curtains of the “big houses” built with clay bricks by the slaves who lived there. Salmon, a television journalist-by-training who had worked for NBC, ABC, and PBS before turning towards art, has done her research. The many stories, historical figures, and writings that she has unearthed reveal the secrecy and complexity of the slave era in America, secrets and complexes that are still pervasive today. The exhibition’s title was derived from a real-life encounter between a group of former slaves running back to their plantation after emancipation, and a group of white people observing and asking, why? In the words of Salmon, “they responded nearly in unison, ‘we made these lands what they are.’” Salmon’s work explores the expansive truth behind this phrase, revealing how America as a country was both physically and theoretically built by slavery, and how both positive and negative impacts remain, unflinching, within American society today. Salmon has collected her photographs and snippets of text from historical documents and visits to dozens of plantations across the American South, and the resulting combinations of visuals and printed text express the pedestrian elements of slavery, rather than the shackles, whips, and leg braces of the horror stories. When asked why in an interview by PBS reporter Duarte Geraldino, Salmon replied, “Life then was very pedestrian,” with segregated norms made up of the plantation architecture, furniture, period lace curtains, “the kind of thing[s] that people encountered every day, black and white.” Her texts are presented in a custom-designed typeface; the artist worked with Brooklyn-based printmakers Peter Kruty and Sayre Gaydos to create a visual language that focuses on the font’s significance without “hitting you over the head with it,” according to Gaydos. Resembling the lettering styles used for runaway slave and auction posters at the time, Salmon’s type spells out a different kind of story. While the “architecture” that Salmon is referring to in her title is not explicitly that of the built environment, her work asserts the concept of slavery being the structure that America is built on. National political issues from unequal educational opportunities to mass incarceration are systems that remain today, just as the plantation houses and clusters of slave cabins in Salmon’s photographs remain. The Architecture of Slavery reminds us of the many deep connections between the history of race in America and the present moment.
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Science photographer Felice Frankel donates architecture snaps to MIT

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries received a gift of 600 photographs by Felice Frankel, the renowned artist and scientist. Currently a researcher in the university’s Department of Chemical Engineering, Frankel has published her stunning photographs widely, and her early images of iconic architecture and landscapes are now at home in “Dome,” the library’s digital database of images and media, as well as in a collection-specific digital venue, DSpace@MIT. “Science has always been in my soul,” Frankel told The New York Times—she majored in biology and worked at a cancer research lab before her husband was sent to Vietnam. When he returned, he gave her a “good camera” as a present—Frankel emphasizes the “good.” With the tool in hand, Frankel discovered the power of photography when applied to learning and exploration. She doesn’t see her photographs as Art with a capital A—she sees her images as a learning tool, a way of documenting phenomena around her. Many of the photographs included in the new MIT collection are from a cross-country road trip, and many of her scientific images are aids for visual classroom learning, for use where an image is less intimidating than an equation. Frankel began her professional engagement with photography working as a volunteer for a public television station, and shortly after for an architect. She soon decided to pursue landscape photography independently, producing images for magazines, and eventually in her own book, Modern Landscape Architecture: Redefining the Garden. Many photos from this book are now being given a second life at MIT for direct student interaction both physically and digitally as individual elements. The photographs are discoveries Frankel wants to share with her students, and with the world. While she has recently become well known for her scientific images of cells and other miniscule things, her images gracing the covers of scholarly journals like Science, she sees a connection between the newer content and the recently gifted collection of her built environments. She says, “It’s all about capturing structured information.” Engaging with famous pieces of architecture like Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute and sculptural elements like Lawrence Halprin’s Ira Keller Fountain, Frankel fully explores her unique sense of composition. Without needing to rely on human subjects to get a great photograph, the buildings and landscapes are studies in mass, light, and color.

Open Call: Labs New Artists III

We are pleased to announce the Open Call for Labs New Artists III, a group show at Red Hook Labs Gallery in Brooklyn, New York, opening in July 2019. The exhibition will feature work by twenty-five emerging, international photographers, unrepresented by a gallery or an agency and selected from Red Hook Labs’ open call by a jury of industry leaders. The show will provide unparalleled exposure for the artists with comprehensive industry attendance and media coverage.   Apply here: https://contests.picter.com/red-hook-labs-new-artists-iii Our 2019 jury includes: Azu Nwagbogu, Director, Zeitz MOCAA, A.A.F. and Lagos Photo Festival; Jimmy Moffat, Founder, Red Hook Labs, Co-founder, Art+Commerce; Edward Enninful, Editor in Chief, British Vogue; Kim Jones, Artistic Director, Dior Men’s; Nathalie Herschdorfer, Director, Museum of Fine Arts, Le Locle, Switzerland; Ibrahim Kamara, Artist, Stylist and Costume Designer; Genevieve Fussell, Senior Photo Editor, The New Yorker; Sueraya Shaheen & Mubarik Jafrey, Photo Director and Publisher, Tribe Photo Mag, Dubai; Courtney Willis Blair, Director, Mitchell-Innes & Nash; Sara Hemming, Co-Founder and CCO, Nataal; Raul Martinez, Corp. Creative Director, Condé Nast; Michael Famighetti, Editor, Aperture magazine; Yumi Goto, Founder, Reminders Photography Stronghold, Tokyo; Camilla Lowther, Founder and Director, CLM; Holly Roussell, Curator, Museologist, and Art Historian specializing in Photography and contemporary art from Asia; Ferdinando Verderi, Creative Director and Partner, Johannes Leonardo; Ashleigh Kane, Arts & Culture Editor, Dazed; Stephen Frailey, Director of Education, Red Hook Labs, Founder, Dear Dave; Alessia Glaviano & Chiara Bardelli Nonino, Brand Visual Director and Photo Editor, Vogue Italia and L’Uomo Vogue; Eve Lyons, Photo Editor, The New York Times; Fabien Baron, Founder and CCO, Baron & Baron; Jennifer Pastore, Photography Director, WSJ Magazine; Leslie Simitch, Executive Vice President, Trunk Archive; Michael Amzalag and Matthias Augustyniak, Art Directors, M/M Paris; Becky Lewis, Senior Agent, Art + Commerce; Ronnie Cooke Newhouse, Creative Director and Founder, House and Holme; David Strettell, Founder and owner, Dashwood Books; Chantal Webber, Founder, Webber Represents. Red Hook Labs is dedicated to supporting emerging talent globally, and to showing personal bodies of work that apply fresh techniques and aesthetics to the photographic medium. Applicants are invited to submit up to 20 images that they feel best represents their point of view as an artist. Application deadline: June 3, 2019 In 2019, the exhibition will happen for a third year in a row. Over the past years, Red Hook Labs has helped launch careers of numerous artists around the world and is dedicated to provide continuous support. As continued support for the artists selected for the Labs New Artists III exhibition, each will be paired with one juror for a year-long mentorship following the show. To further expose the artists work to an international audience, the exhibition will travel to Oslo and Milan following its New York opening. All Labs profits (from submissions and exhibition sales) go to Red Hook Labs Education and Jobs Initiative, a 501(c)3. If you have questions, please e-mail us at info@redhooklabs.com!
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Getty Center spotlights contemporary shifts in landscape photography

Mapping Space: Recent Acquisitions in Focus is a provocative exhibition on view at the Getty Center that draws together recently acquired works of photography from the Getty’s collection to explore shifting approaches to landscape photography.

The exhibition examines the work of five artists—Uta Barth, Robert Kinmont, Richard Long, Mark Ruwedel, and Wang Jinsong—who each seek to upend conventional forms of survey photography through genre-shifting experiments in representation.

Mark Ruwedel’s We All Loved Ruscha (15 Apts.) engages with the history of conceptual art by reshooting the sites featured in artist Ed Ruscha’s Some Los Angeles Apartments, a collection of iconic and quasi-anthropological photos of vernacular dingbat homes.

Wang Jinsong’s series, One Hundred Signs of the Demolition, presents a superscaled view into the nitty-gritty details of late-nineties Chinese urban renewal.

Come to see how these genre-shifting photos blur the lines between documentation, narrative, and protest; leave, perhaps, with a less rigid view of landscape photography.

Mapping Space: Recent Acquisitions in Focus Getty Center 1200 Getty Center Drive Los Angeles, California Through July 14, 2019
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Architecture photographer Michael Wolf, who captured a chaotic Hong Kong, passes away

German photographer and artist Michael Wolf has passed away at the age of 64. Wolf is best known for his work in Hong Kong, where he isolated chaotic samples of the built environment out of context to reframe the urban environment. Wolf first moved to Hong Kong in 1994 as a photographer for Stern magazine and left to pursue his personal work in 2003. The density of the megacity became the focus of Wolf’s two long-running photo series, Architecture of Density (2003–2014) and Informal Solutions (2003–2019), which not only took a larger view of the city but explored its alleyways and hidden crevices. The Berlin-born Wolf eventually expanded out from his Hong Kong home while he documented both Asia and Europe. In Tokyo Compression, Wolf explored the crowded Japanese subway system, while in Paris, he made extensive use of Google Street View as a photographic tool. Wolf was a prolific artist and contributed to a number of photo books, including 17 in the last decade alone. Wolf was recognized for his work in his lifetime, having won the World Press Photo competition in 2005 and 2010, as well as an honorable mention in 2011. In 2010 and 2016, he was also nominated for the Prix Pictet award.
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AIANY misses the mark with its photography show of Syrian architecture

Last month, I attended the opening of an exhibition by the American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter (AIANY) at the Center for Architecture, showcasing photographs of ancient Syrian architecture and civilization. The exhibition, titled ​Syria Before the Deluge​, was by far the most disappointing and superficial work I’ve seen displayed at AIANY. At first, I couldn’t pinpoint what exactly was bothering me so much about this elegant display of black and white photographs of ancient Syrian landmarks. After all, I’m a Syrian architect and I should be thrilled for an event that is calling attention to Syria’s ancient civilization and architecture, especially when delivered by a renowned architectural photographer, Peter Aaron. But the truth of the matter is that this exhibition failed to inform the audience of anything of value about the history of present of Syria, a country whose history, like its architecture, has been shaped and reshaped by the rule of a totalitarian barbaric regime that systematically plundered and reduced Syria’s history over the past six decades to what we see today, and what Aaron photographed in his 2009 visit. The photographs showcase Aleppo and Palmyra, two of Syria’s most iconic jewels. Yet nowhere on the walls of the exhibition is there a mention of the residents of Aleppo, or Palmyra, or Damascus, whose ancestors built these ruins. All that is shown are pictures of ancient structures with sympathy-provoking captions like ​“this structure was destroyed during the civil war in 2015.” Nowhere does it say who bombed the iconic Umayyad Mosque’s minaret in Aleppo, burned the city’s historic Souk, turned the Citadel of Aleppo into a military barrack, and caused the displacement of half of Syria’s population. These issues were simply left out of the exhibit narrative. The exhibit also fails to mention those who systematically looted Palmyra’s treasures since the 1950s and turned the very name of Palmyra into a symbol of terror for millions of Syrians due to the infamous Palmyra prison. A high-security prison in the middle of the desert that allegedly witnessed the most gruesome massacres against political activists among countless other violations of human rights during the Assad ruling. None of that was in the exhibit. Just an orientalist, romanticized narrative about a beautiful civilization that once was but is no more. Occasionally, Isis is cited as the force of evil that ruined what is portrayed as ancient oriental heaven of architecture and civilization.   In the abstract introduction to the event, Aaron writes: “[Syria’s] tolerant atmosphere has quickly disintegrated due to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism,” a statement that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Syrian society was ravaged by the Ba’ath regime's tactics of planting fear and mistrust between minorities and the Muslim majority over decades of an authoritarian ruling. In one corner of the exhibit, the curators reach peak tone-deafness with a picture that shows a young man riding a horse with a massive picture of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, in the background, with the caption reading: “Portrait of President Bashar al-Assad at a private riding club in the Damascus suburbs.” No mention of the 500,000 that this president is accused of killing over the past eight years. Throughout the event, the war is referred to as the “Syrian Civil War.” I personally find that term lacking in nuance and indicative of ignorance in the Syrian cause. Anyone who’s done any amount of reading about Syria would know that this naming is both factually and morally wrong. Factually, because when Russian air fighters are bombing rebelling neighborhoods with the support of Iranian ground troops, it’s not so much of a civil war as a proxy war involving two of the world’s most notorious armies spending billions of dollars to preserve the ruling of their puppet in Damascus. It’s also morally wrong to equal a rebelling people, that was bombarded, displaced, and starved for eight years after demanding freedom and democracy, with a regime that unapologetically used chemical weapons against that same people. When I raised these issues to a Syrian friend, she wondered about why I would raise political issues in an architectural event. A few months back, I attended an event at AIANY where my former Columbia professor, Michael Murphy, talked with Michael Sorkin about the political aspect of architecture. The event was titled ​Architecture is Never Neutral​ and it portrayed a very different narrative from the one I saw last week. That event explored in depth how being “apolitical” is the most political act anyone can take in situations of injustice. Syria is far from being an exception to that rule. This exhibit not only failed Syrians by failing to tell the true story of their country, but also failed the visitors who will leave knowing little about the current status of a 4,000-year-old civilization, and the ancestors who built that civilization. AIANY can take steps to make the remainder of this exhibit a more nuanced representation of Syria’s recent history by recaptioning the photographs to be more reflective of Syria’s current state, starting with the picture of Syria’s ruthless tyrant, Bashar al-Assad.
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New exhibition studies destruction and demolition in New York City and Appalachia

Destruction and Transformation: Vernacular Photography and the Built Environment at New York City’s Walther Collection, an art space featuring historical and contemporary photography, looks at what happens when buildings disappear. The exhibition will showcase 16 photographic series ranging from 1876 to 2000 that focus on building demolition, with a focus on two sites in particular: the Appalachian coalfields, where natural resource extraction has decimated the local landscape and ecology; and New York City, an urban environment dominated by cycles of cash-fueled construction and destruction. Although the exhibition will center on demolition, Destruction and Transformation will force visitors to confront the drastic and often harsh effects of modernization and urban expansion that come often at the expense of nature, history, and native populations. Rather than focus on a single photographer, the exhibition displays numerous documentary images taken in New York City over the course of a century, including Harvey F. Dutcher’s 1939 series depicting the gradual destruction of the Sixth Avenue Elevated Railroad, as well as an anonymous photographer’s meticulous survey of stores along Sixth Avenue, many of which have since disappeared. Destruction and Transformation will also include panoramic photos of evolving landscapes, including images of the construction of San Francisco, the famous Viaur Viaduct in Southern France, and the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Destruction and Transformation: Vernacular Photography and the Built Environment February 8–May 25, 2019 Walther Collection 526 West 26th Street, Suite 718 New York, N.Y. 10001