“Modernity and Its Discontents” is the photography exhibition I have been mainly assisting on during my internship at SMOCA. It features the work of three artist who use various form of film to comment on our modern society with a focus on religion, war, and technology.
Mike Williams is apart of the faculty of my photography program at ASU, though I have yet to have taken a class from him. He intuitively photographs his surroundings using a film camera, though he prints digitally. David Sherman is a video artist, who uses found discarded film reels, and digital recording technologies to create his piece “The Graceless” which is so beautiful and complex. Last is Christian Widmer, my color photography professor at ASU, who is easily one of my favorite teachers. Christian, like Mike Williams, photographs intuitively. His series is shot analog as well as printed analog.
Modernity and It’s Discontents. It’s quite a title, but I think it’s perfect for the name of this show. Like the title, this exhibition is extremely simple, in appearance especially. But in content, it’s pretty complex. All of these artist are commenting on the irony and the setbacks of this modern age we are living in. The things we thought would make us happy, somehow still have left us feeling unfulfilled. Christian’s work dates back ten years, capturing the first decade of the century. His series focuses on this disconnect and discontentment with our society. A photograph of his daughters birth looks less like a routine hospital birth and more like some kind religious laboratory birth, a collaboration between man and science. The persistence references in imagery to looking through reflections and windows reminds the viewer of photography itself. This is a point Mike Williams, makes in his work as well. This theme of the exhibition is subtle, but it’s there. I like this idea as recently I have been thinking a lot about the truth of a photograph. Mike Williams, has this photograph of a deer, that you will undoubtedly argue is taxidermy. It appears unbelievably plastic, lifeless, and fake but I assure you, it’s not. (I got to listen to these discussions between the curator and the artists, and on this photograph Williams suggests that it’s photography that in a way, Killed this deer. So in a way, the image is true.) All of these artist are presenting “truths” but then saying, “Hey, don’t forget, this isn’t THE truth. It’s MY truth.”
All three artists also in some form reference the World Trade Center, the petroleum age, consumerism, and media.David Sherman’s video combines jagged clips with audio arranged in a haunting formation that is easy to follow. I am going to refrain from saying much more, as you should go check out the exhibition for yourself! There will be an opening reception on the 8th from 6:30-9:30 p.m.!
It opens October 9, 2010 – January 2, 2011.