Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Art and "moral geographies"

In writing about the current show of work by photographers Hank Paper and Marjorie Wolfe at Kehler Liddell Gallery in Westville, Israel at 60: Time and Diversity, I stated that "the show eschews the political controversies swirling around the Middle East for a couple of personal travelogues." I didn't choose to address the implications of that focus while also noting that the militarization of Israeli society was implicit in the guns bristling in several of Paper's prints.

But Stephen Vincent Kobasa, the New Haven Advocate's acute art critic (as well as a deeply conscientious peace activist), has—unsurprisingly—thought about the show in those terms. Kobasa writes:

All photographs censor the world. And it is customary to accept the frame's arrogance as we do the proscenium arch—the invisible extended landscape must exist, or else the visible image would vanish.

In the panoramic work of a photographer such as Sze Tsung Leong, we are confident that the horizon continues, that the geography of the world remains intact, even though it is out of sight.

But there are moral geographies, too, and their absence from the frame cannot always be reconstructed by the imagination. It is impossible not to think about this when making one's way through the exhibition Israel at 60: Time and Diversity at the Kehler Liddell Gallery in Westville until Apr. 27.

Like all of Kobasa's articles, it is an essay well worth reading, written with uncommon grace and unafraid to probe uncomfortable but necessary questions. When oppression is a reality (as is terrorism), can there be a truly neutral art?

Kobasa concludes, "It may be that the power of what is on the gallery walls here is what it demands that we see without being shown—the lines of Palestinians, standing at the checkpoints, just out of sight."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why aren't you blogging about the new gallery at Hull's on Whitney Avenue in New Haven? Yes, they still do framing, but it is a gallery now, not a retail store. Attracting a lot of people.

2:53 PM


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