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Olivo Barbieri
Olivo Barbieri      horiz rule     

Click here for the video of Olivo Barbieri's lecture from his September 2009 visit.

     For over 20 years, Italian photographer Olivo Barbieri’s work has focused on cities and their inhabitants. Barbieri’s photographs and his more recent films seem to exist between documentary and fiction. At first glance, the scenes we see in Olivo’s photographs and films seem to be of detailed models. They are in fact shot on 35mm film or high definition video from a helicopter that moves across and around each city. Through the manipulation of focus, by playing with the viewer’s sense of scale and distance Barbieri redefines the sense of urban space.
     Olivo Barbieri, born in Carpi (Modena), 1954. He lives and works in Carpi. He attended the department of Pedagogy and the D.A.M.S. arts school in Bologna. After 1971, his interest in photography grew, and he concentrated initially on research into artificial lighting in European and Oriental cities. From 1978 onwards, he took part in numerous exhibitions both in Italy and abroad. In 1989 he started to make regular journeys to the Far East, particularly to China, a nation of which he studied the rapid changes closely. His works were displayed at the Venice Biennale in 1993, 1995 and 1997. In 1996 he featured in a retrospective at the Folkwang Museum in Essen. In the mid 90s, he adopted a new photographic technique which allowed him to maintain only certain parts of the image in focus: the landscapes depicted, often from a helicopter, thus look like scale models, offering surprising and estranging visions: Olivo Barbieri seems to be continually wondering just how much reality actually exists in our life system, or rather, to what point our perception is suited to understanding that which surrounds us.

Walead Beshty

Walead Beshty      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Walead Beshty's lecture from his September 2010 visit.

     Walead Beshty has long used photography as a tool to explore the social and political conditions of our material culture. More recently, the material conditions of photography itself have spurred his continuing investigations of the gap between the physical world and the image world, and the way this rupture is instrumentalized by ideologies that seek to infiltrate the processes through which we produce meaning.
     From his early projects, like those in The Phenomenology of Shopping and Dead Malls, a 2004 exhibition of the artist’s work at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, New York, Beshty has frequently experimented with photography’s deadpan recording ability, using the mechanics of its preservation of information about objects and places in specific moments of time—especially subjects with limited native content, like the forlorn precincts of derelict shopping centers— to expose the kinds of projection and fictionalization that effect even the most superficially stable types of “factual” images.
     In his more recent projects, the artist has explored other, more politically complex kinds of ruins, most notably in a series of works flowing from a string of visits he made between 2001 and 2006 to the defunct Iraqi Diplomatic Mission in the former East Berlin. The abandoned building—a piece of a sovereign nation then undergoing radical social and political deconstruction, unmoored within the territory of another nation that had ceased to exist—was, Beshty later wrote, “a relic of two bygone regimes, unclaimable by any nation; a physical location marooned between symbolic shifts in global politics and a displaced representation of the turmoil of the nation to which it is abstractly linked.” During his trips to and from Berlin, Beshty found echoes of this zone of radical indeterminacy in the transitional spaces of modern travel—the airport, the customs station, the security checkpoint. It was an unexpected encounter with the last of these that provided the proximate inspiration for the newest phase in Beshty’s ever-evolving practice. Using a batch of film damaged by the airport security X-ray machine, the artist literally added a whole new set of traces of form and meaning to his already layered images, initiating another step in his ongoing examination of what he has called a “core dialectic of his work,” namely, the operative tension between the material and the optical in the photographic artifact.

Mitch Epstein
Mitch Epstein      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Mitch Epstein's lecture from his February 2010 visit.

     Mitch Epstein was among the first artists in the 1970s to adopt color photography, challenging the prevailing mindset that it was an unrefined and strictly commercial medium. Over the next three decades he has developed a substantial body of work that examines what he has described as "the loaded narratives of everyday life." Epstein's photographs, whether taken in the United States or abroad, demonstrate a sensitivity to social nuances and cultural complexities while capturing moments of striking beauty or gentle irony. Epstein remarks that he is compelled to interpret the world around him, rather than simply record it; his photographs follow from a long-standing documentary tradition, capturing the material world as it exists, yet they integrate the visual impact and consciously layered meanings of large-scale conceptual photography.
     After attending Union College, Rhode Island School of Design, and finally Cooper Union in New York, where he was a student of Garry Winogrand, Epstein spent the mid-1970s traveling throughout the United States making photographs. In 1978, following his marriage to Indian filmmaker Mira Nair, Epstein began living in India, where he would be based for the next decade; his photographs from this period, published as In Pursuit of India in 1987, reflect a voyage of a different, more figurative variety. In his afterword to the book, Epstein writes, "It became clear that knowing India was an ongoing journey to which I could apply no formal plan. I simply had to be open to experiences that perhaps would lead me to understand the order, the beauty, and, at times, the paradox in all I was seeing." Photographing public spectacles as well as more intimate moments, the series provide a complicated, elliptical view of collective life in India. Epstein's photographs, such as those of pilgrims in Manabahporam or the Ganpati festival in Bombay, soak up the country's vibrant color palette, capture its dense crowds, and register the intricate coexistence of religious ritual and everyday activities, but they comprise more open-ended depictions rather than representative symbols of an exotic place. Dramatic landscapes and vivid events become a consistent backdrop rather than the central focus as Epstein lets the people anchor his photographs, in groups or alone, as they go about their lives.
     Epstein's photographs of India are important precursors to his later projects in Vietnam and the United States, including the series Family Business (2002-2003), which centers on his father's failing business in a Massachusetts town, and American Power (2003-), an expansive examination of U.S. energy consumption and other manifestations of power. The photographs in In Pursuit of India lay a common groundwork in terms of Epstein's sense of color and composition, but they also inform his evolving approach. The artist writes, "My experience internationally has given me a far greater perspective on my own country than I could have had if I had not left and dug deep into other cultures. The pictures I am making today echo those I made in my twenties, and later at fifty." Facilitated in part by a shift from a handheld camera to a more detailed 8x10 view camera, Epstein continues to develop a complex relationship between enticing formal beauty and incisive observation, while fostering an ambiguous balance in his images between a sense of the documentary and implied, hypothetical narratives.

Terry Evans
Terry Evans      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Terry Evans's lecture from her Spring 2009 visit.

     For a large portion of her career, Terry Evans has photographed the prairie, from its natural, untouched state to its care, development, use, and abandonment. Photographing from both ground and aerial perspectives, she focuses on the issues of specific places and how ecological, economic, agricultural, and cultural patterns physically shape the landscape. As her documentation ranges from responsible land management like cattle rotation and erosion prevention to careless industrial pollution in her aerial pictures, Evans is consistently interested in the tension between specificity and abstraction. The distanced perspective offers a wide-reaching, detached, and revealing view of the landscape. Her images clearly articulate this duality inherent in the relationship between the landscape and those who live in it. Around the turn of the century, Evans began to photograph animal and plant specimens, examining the relationship between science and art and once again challenging us to define our place in nature.
     Terry Evans was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1944. Her solo exhibition In Place of Prairie appeared at the Art Institute of Chicago in late 1998, and she has exhibited other works at the National Audubon Society Headquarters, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Society for Contemporary Photography, Kansas City, Missouri, among others. Her work is included in many permanent collections, such as those at the Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Frank Gohlke
Frank Gohlke      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Frank Gohlke's lecture from his Spring 2009 visit.

     Frank Gohlke is a leading figure in American landscape photography. He has been awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Known for his large format landscape photographs, Gohlke's work has been shown at museums all over the world and included in collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, the Australian National Gallery and the National Gallery of Canada.
     Although he was born in Texas, Gohlke’s geographical range includes central France, the American South and Midwest, New England and Mount St. Helens after a volcanic eruption.
     Gohlke received his B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in English Literature. At Yale University, where he received his MA in English in 1966, Gohlke met Walker Evans and then studied privately with Paul Caponigro. Gohlke’s photographs came to notice in the influential 1975 group exhibition New Topographics: Images of a Man-Altered Landscape at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, New York.

Kahn & Selsnick
Kahn & Selsnick      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Kahn & Selsnick's lecture from their March 2011 visit.

     Known for creating whimsical and elaborately constructed photographs, drawings, and sculptures, Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick have been spinning wild visual tales together for more than twenty years. Their practice involves dreaming up complex fictional narratives based on real historical events and injecting them with a wry sense of humor, while sparking new considerations of history and time.
     Kahn & Selesnick’s project Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea (2010) features two female protagonists wandering aimlessly in a bizarre Martian landscape that has formerly been inhabited. While there, they encounter detritus from the mysteriously vacated civilization, including pyramids, obelisks, giant balloons, and concrete boats. Comprised of photographs taken by NASA’s Mars rovers and by the artists themselves in the Nevada and Utah deserts, these landscapes have a surreal quality. Inspired by Edmund Burke’s quote from 1756, “Terror is in all cases the ruling principle of the sublime,” Kahn and Selesnick’s view of humankind and the universe is as frightening as it is beautiful. By blending references to both past and future time periods, their work probes our conception of time as a linear phenomenon. In their absurdity and ambiguity they reveal our deep-seated need to cling to what we think we know, and provoke us to let go and experience the fanciful.
     Richard Selesnick and Nicholas Kahn have been collaborating as Kahn/Selesnick since 1988. They have both held artist residencies at Addison Gallery of American Art in Massachusetts, the Djerrasi Artist Program in California, and Toni Morrison's Atelier Program at Princeton University. Solo exhibitions include Schottensumpfkunftig, The REC, Past-Future, Scotlandfuturebog, City of Salt, The Apollo Prophecies, Eisbergfreistadt. The two artists met at Washington University in St. Louis, where both studied photography; they currently reside in New York. Nicholas Kahn lives in a converted wooden Dutch church overlooking the Hudson River, and Richard Selesnick lives in a well-gardened townhouse in Brooklyn built atop a former bog.

Justine Kurland
Justine Kurland      horiz rule     

Click here for the video of Justine Kurland's lecture from her November 2010 visit.

     Justine Kurland practices a style of photographic mannerism that exploits staged realities in order to explore the social landscape of girlhood. The adolescents of Kurland’s pictures move in groups through open vistas and sheltered areas, bold adventurers seeking and sometimes finding havens in hostile environments. The landscapes themselves are majestic, and the postures and activities of the girls often create a mysterious, even foreboding tone. In Slumber Party (Denver, Colorado), for instance, girls in sleeping bags lie scattered across an unprotected expanse. The result is epic imagery, where isolated figures braving elemental situations are wrought in a narrative style of photography that is inventive, dramatic, and fragmentary. The stagecraft of Kurland’s art is achieved through a collaboration between the artist and her models, who are very real girls in real life. Upon the selection of a location, usually a place important to locals and sometimes suggested by the girls themselves, Kurland talks about certain themes and scenarios – the runaway, the road, a shared paradise – which her models respond to and interpret for the camera.
     Justine Kurland was born in Warsaw, New York in 1969. Her MFA in Photography is from Yale University (1998). She has had solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2003); Columbus State University, Columbus, Georgia (2003); Artspace, Auckland, New Zealand (2002); Gorney Bravin + Lee, New York (2002); the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2002); Torch Galerie, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2001); Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels, Belgium (2001); and Módulo, Lisbon, Portugal (2001).


Christian Lantry

Hellen Van Meene      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Christian Lantry's lecture from his Spring 2010 visit.

      In his clever and funny bio, photographer Christian Lantry states, "I take pictures." 

That's a bit of an understatement. From memorable album covers to some of the most recognizable advertising campaigns, Christian Lantry has produced stunning images for various industries. Al Green, Tom Waits, Common, Sheryl Crow and TV On The Radio are a few names that have been on the other side of his camera.
     Another thing Christian Lantry states in his bio? "I absolutely love photography." One look at his work and you'll no doubt say the same. Don't miss the invaluable opportunity to hear Christian Lantry discuss his experience working within different industries and much more.


Laura McPhee

Laura McPhee      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Laura McPhee's lecture from her April 2011 visit.

     Laura McPhee follows in the tradition of 19th-century artistic approaches toward the sublime, relying on a large-format view camera to make images of exquisite color, clarity, and definition. For more than thirty years her photographs have described the land and the human community that inhabits and often shapes it.

     Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Getty Center, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among many others. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography in 1993. McPhee’s books include River of No Return, No Ordinary Land: Encounters in a Changing Environment, Forces of Change: A New View of Nature, and Girls: Ordinary Girls and Their Extraordinary Pursuits. McPhee is a Professor of Photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She is represented by the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in New York and the Carroll and Sons Gallery in Boston, MA.

Zwelethu Mthethwa
zwelethu mthethwa      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Zwelethu Mthethwa's lecture from his October 2010 visit.

     Since Apartheid’s  fall in 1994, South African photography has exploded from the grip of  censorship onto the world stage. A key figure in this movement is  Zwelethu Mthethwa, whose stunning portraits powerfully frame black South  Africans as dignified and defiant, even under the duress of social and  economic hardship. Working in urban and rural industrial landscapes,  Mthethwa documents a range of aspects in South Africa—from domestic life  and the environment to landscape and labor issues. His work challenges the conventions of both Western documentary work and African commercial studio  photography, marking a transition away from the visually exotic and  diseased—or “Afro-pessimism,” as curator Okwui Enwezor has referred to  it—and employing a fresh approach marked by color and  collaboration. Zwelethu Mthethwa is the artist’s long-awaited first comprehensive monograph, providing an overview of his work to-date and  featuring the stunning portraits thaT have brought him international  acclaim. 

Nicholas Nixon

N Nixon      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Nicholas Nixon's lecture from his Fall 2008 visit.

     Since 1975, Nicholas Nixon has photographed his wife and her three sisters producing a single photograph each year featuring the sisters in the same order (youngest to oldest from left to right) though at various locations along the East Coast. From left to right we see Heather, Mimi, Bebe (Nixon's wife), and Laurie as they change and grow from year to year in image after image. The Brown Sisters series functions as an ever-evolving portrait of the siblings and their relationship to one another over time.
     Although best known for his ongoing portrait series of his wife and her sisters, Nicholas Nixon addresses many traditional themes of documentary photography – the family, the elderly, the ill – essentially pictures of people of all and any type. Using an 8 x 10-inch camera, Nixon captures the essential textures, tonalities, and expressions of the people he photographs. The father/daughter portrait Yazoo City, Mississippi is from a series Nixon made of people on their front porches.
     Nicholas Nixon was born in 1947 in Detroit. He studied American literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and photography at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. Nixon has worked as an independent photographer since 1974. He is the recipient of two John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships, three National Endowment for the Arts Photographer's Fellowships, and a Massachusetts Council for the Arts "New Works" Grant. His photographs have been exhibited at many international museums and galleries, including the Art Institute of Chicago; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Richard Renaldi

Richard Renaldi      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Richard Renaldi's lecture from his Spring 2009 visit.

     Richard Renaldi was born in Chicago, and received his BFA in photography from New York University. Solo exhibitions of Renaldi's photographs have been mounted in galleries and museums throughout the United States including the Nicolaysen Art Museum and Discovery Center in Casper, Wyoming. Renaldi’s work has been exhibited in many group shows including, The First International Center of Photography, 2003 Triennial of Photography. Figure and Ground, his first monograph, was published by Aperture Books.

Mark Ruwedel

Mark Ruwedel      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Mark Ruwedel's lecture from his October 2009 visit.

     For over twenty-five years, Mark Ruwedel has photographed sites in the American West where historical and contemporary marks on the land exist as a geographical palimpsest. He enjoys the irony of our celebrating and preserving the scratchings of prehistoric cultures on the land, while we decry the ways in which we alter our environment today. Combining photographs of ancient trails and remnants of 12,000-year-old ceremonial sites with modern tire tracks and roads, Ruwedel questions how different these intrusions really are. His ongoing body of work entitled The Ice Age is photographed along the relic shores of dried glacial melt lakes, including Lake Manly, now Death Valley. Because of the extremely arid climate in the Basin and Range Region, nature's reclamation of both human and natural processes takes thousands of years – nineteenth century rail lines crumble side-by-side with ancient foot paths. Both remnants are evidence of the most advanced technology of the time, yet quite different in their impact on the land. And while the cultural resources expended on a trail and on a railroad are vastly different, they are disappearing at the same rate in this environment.
     Born in 1954, Mark Ruwedel studied at Kutztown State College, Pennsylvania, and Concordia University in Montreal, where he later taught photography. His photographs have been exhibited widely, including at the J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas; and the National Gallery, Canada. His work is held in several permanent collections, including those of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Library of Congress; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; ad the Princeton University Art Gallery, Trenton, New Jersey. 

Mickalene Thomas

Walead Beshty      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Mickalene Thomas' lecture from her March 2010 visit.

     New York-based artist Mickalene Thomas is best known for her elaborate paintings composed of rhinestones, acrylic, and enamel. Thomas introduces a complex vision of what it means to be a woman and expands common definitions of beauty. Her work stems from her long study of art history and the classical genres of portraiture, landscape, and still life. 
     Inspired by various sources that range from the 19th Century Hudson River School to Édouard Manet, Henri Matisse, and Romare Bearden, she continues to explore notions of beauty from a contemporary perspective infused with the more recent influences of popular culture and Pop Art. 

Penelope Umbrico

Penelope Umbrico      horiz rule     

Click here for the video of Penelope Umbrico's lecture from her November 2009 visit.

     Penelope Umbrico's photographs offer a radical reinterpretation of everyday consumer and vernacular images. As the artist describes, she works "within the virtual world of consumer marketing and social media, traveling through the relentless flow of seductive images, objects, and information that surrounds us, searching for decisive moments” but in these worlds, decisive moments are cultural absurdities."
     Penelope Umbrico (born in Philadelphia, 1957) graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, and received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York. She has participated extensively in solo and group exhibitions, including at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York. This summer she will be featured in the Discovery Award exhibition at Rencontres d'Arles. 

 Hellen Van Meene
Hellen Van Meene      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Hellen Van Meene's lecture from her April 2010 visit.

     Hellen van Meene, born in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, in 1972, creates carefully posed and styled images of young women and girls that still manage to convey a certain naturalism. She does not use professional models and often photographs girls from her hometown. When van Meene has been commissioned to work in other countries, most notably for her work in Japan, van Meene asks girls she meets there to pose for her.
     Curator of Photographs Charlotte Cotton of the Victoria and Albert Museum explains: “It’s unclear whether we are looking at carefully staged or awkwardly struck spontaneous poses, whether these are girls dressed up for the occasion or caught in unself-conscious play. It’s tantilisingly ambiguous whether these are intimate moments that would be happening with or without the present of van Meene, her camera and our appreciation or if they are fully directed scenes that simply have the look of something intimate and fleeting.”
     She works predominantly with younger models because of what she sees as their inspirational qualities. Van Meene finds in them an openness and freshness that is difficult to find in adults. “If you’re taking portraits of someone in their forties, you find they really know what they want, so it’s more difficult to pry them open, to get into their soul, to really get a feel of the person. It’s more difficult because they already know what they want from life; they already have experienced things, either positive or negative; and that results in a different outcome.”
     The intimacy of theses works is further emphasized by their small scale. Van Meene’s tight framing, small size, simple props and settings, and use of natural light invites a personal experience between viewer and subject. The figures, though unnamed, are genuine and approachable.


Chris Verene

Chris Verene      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Chris Verene's lecture from his February 2011 visit.

     In his series Camera Club (1995-1997), Chris Verene employs his camera furtively, but without entirely concealing it from view. Verene infiltrated the world of "camera clubs," groups of men who lure young women into modeling nude or seminude by placing classified ads in newspapers and pretending to be professional fashion photographers. He posed as a camera club photographer, joined the group and played the part, but then turned his camera on the photographers themselves. By positioning himself behind the men and pretending to be tinkering with his camera – loading his film, testing his flash – Verene could easily release his shutter without arousing the suspicion of his already distracted colleagues.
     The resulting pictures telescope the usual photographer's gaze and emphasize the predatory nature of photography. Verene's compositions mirror the power dynamics of the situation: the men's backs, hairy legs, and balding heads dominate the picture plane and their lurching posture reveals their avidity. In contrast, the women in the background are small in scale; Verene protects their identities by keeping them generally out of focus.
     For almost 20 years, Verene has photographed his hometown of Galesburg, a small working class railroad town in western Illinois. In these pictures Verene documents with dignity and a wry sense of humor both joyful events, like a cousin's wedding, and the hardships of poverty, divorce, and death. Other projects include a continuation of the Camera Club series, the Self-Esteem Salon. A performance oriented project Verene coined as a public response to the Camera Club images, the Self-Esteem Salon involves a series of "therapeutic portrait sessions" geared towards models in need of a fresh look or makeover.
     Born in Galesburg, Illinois, Chris Verene was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He received a BA from Emory University and an MFA from Georgia State University. In addition to being a photographer, Verene is also a performance artist and musician in the indie rock band Cordero. His works have been presented at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and in Times Square, New York. His photographs are held in the permanent collections of many institutions, including the Whitney Museum and the High Museum. Verene currently lives and works in New York where he is an adjunct Professor of MFA Photography and Related Media at the School of Visual Art.

Deborah & Hank Willis Thomas

HWT      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Deborah and Hank Willis Thomas' lecture from their Fall 2009 visit. 

      Hank Willis Thomas is a photo conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to identity, history and popular culture. He received his BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and his MFA in photography, along with an MA in visual criticism, from California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco. His work has been featured in many publications including Reflections in Black (Norton, 2000) 25 under 25: Up-and-Coming American Photographers (CDS, 2003), 30 Americans (RFC, 2008).  Thomas’ monograph, Pitch Blackness, was published by Aperture in 2008.  He received a new media fellowship through the Tribeca Film Institute and was an artist in residence at John Hopkins University. He has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad including Galerie Anne De Villepoix in Paris, the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. Thomas’ work is in numerous public collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, The High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Museum of Fine Art in Houston. His collaborative projects have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival and installed publicly at the Oakland International Airport, The Oakland Museum of California and the University of California, San Francisco. Recent exhibitions include Dress Codes: The International Center for Photography’s Triennial of Photography and Video, Greater New York at P.S. 1/MoMa, Contact Toronto Photography Festival and Houston Fotofest.

Michael Wolf

MWolf      horiz rule      

Click here for the video of Michael Wolf's lecture from his Fall 2008 visit. 

      In 2005 Michael Wolf (German, b. 1956) visited Chicago for the first time to participate in a group exhibition for the Museum of Contemporary Photography. As he rode an elevated train from the airport into the city, he began to envision photographing Chicago. For the previous decade, Wolf had been living and working in Hong Kong, attempting to capture the sheer density of people living on the two small islands that make up that city. Wolf examined the endless ranks of residential housing complexes in Hong Kong by removing the horizon line and flattening the space to a relentless abstraction of urban expansion. He noticed, however, that Chicago had an entirely different feel. While Hong Kong is built of endless rows of structures designed and built in a nearly identical style, Chicago has more experimental, unique buildings of many different styles.
     In 2007, the Museum of Contemporary Photography, in collaboration with the U.S. Equities Reality artist-in-residence program, invited Wolf to create his first body of work to address an American city. Chicago is known for work by innovative architects such as David Adler, Daniel Burnham, Louis H. Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright, and after World War II, it established itself as a world capital of modern architecture influenced by the international style of Mies van der Rohe and home to notable projects by Helmut Jahn, Philip Johnson, and more recently Frank Gehry. While it has been common for photographers to glorify Chicago’s distinctive architecture and environmental context, Wolf depicts the city more abstractly, focusing less on individual well-known structures and more on the contradictions and conflicts between architectural styles when visually flattened together in a photograph. His pictures look through the multiple layers of glass to reveal the social constructs of living and working in an urban environment, focusing specifically on voyeurism and the contemporary urban landscape in flux. Wolf explores the complex, sometimes blurred distinctions between private and public life in a city made transparent by his intense observation.