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Framing and Being Framed: The Uses of Documentary Photography
Alfredo Jaar, The Power of Words, 1984, black and white photograph mounted on Plexiglass 56 x 48 inches. Courtesy the Artist and Galerie Lelong, New York.

MIDDLETOWN.- Framing and Being Framed at Wesleyan University’s Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery is an examination of how contemporary visual artists and photographers comment on traditional assumptions about documentary photography in their work. In order to encourage viewers to grapple with issues of context, subjectivity and interpretation, the artists in the exhibition employ devices such as accompanying text, animation, participation, collaboration, and reenactment of events. Represented by two-dimensional and video works, featured artists include Perry Bard, Matthew Buckingham, Wendy Ewald, Koto Ezawa, Eric Gottesman, Alfredo Jaar, Emily Jacir, An-My Le, Susan Meiselas, and Ann Messner. The exhibition is curated by Nina Felshin, Zilkha Gallery’s Curator of Exhibitions.

Framing and Being Framed: The Uses of Documentary Photography runs through Sunday, December 7, 2008.

Framing and Being Framed is part of a larger university-wide photography initiative entitled Eye of History: The Camera as Witness.

Wendy Ewald, Eric Gottesman, and Susan Meiselas are represented by collaborative projects in which they engage the vision and voice of a particular population. Ewald, a pioneer of collaborative photography, is represented by excerpts from Towards A Promised Land, a project in which she collaborated with young people in the British seaside town of Margate. Eric Gottesman is represented by his project with Sudden Flowers, a children’s art collective in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that he helped found.

Perry Bard’s video Man With a Movie Camera: The Global Remake was shot by people around the world who were invited to record images interpreting the original script of Vertov’s classic, experimental documentary film Man With A Movie Camera (1929).

Koto Ezawa’s short DVD The Simpson Verdict (2002), a computer-generated animation, is the result of reconstructing, frame by frame, the documentary television footage of the O.J. Simpson verdict being handed down in the courtroom.

The twelve photographs that comprise Matthew Buckingham’s series Will Someone Please Explain it to Me, I’ve Just Become a Radical refers to a student demonstration against recruiters from the Dow Chemical Company, the manufacturers of napalm, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1967.

An My-Le’s 29 Palms (2003–04) was shot at the eponymous military base, located in California’s Mohave desert, where Iraq- and Afghanistan-bound Marines train before deployment.

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