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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Flash Forward Day One

Last night's reception was a chance for people to meet before heading to the Group Show exhibition opening. We were welcomed by MaryAnn Camilleri, the festival director. There was great finger food and a chance to meet my fellow panelist Chris Churchill. Also talked to Paula Tognarelli of the Griffin Museum (which I hope to visit on Saturday), and Andy Adams.

Then it was upstairs to see the Eye Buy Art exhibit, where I listened to photographers Georgie Friedman, Robert Watermeyer, and Marc Dimov talk about their work. Most of the prints were selling for $50, which prompted a discussion among Chris, Kristina Feliciano and I about how were photographers going to make a living selling prints if prints were being priced so low all over. Definitely a subject I intend to talk about more. is the sister organization to Flash Forward, selling limited-edition photos created by past and current Flash Forward winners. Saw a print of Gabriela Herman's work--a lovely photo and an unexpected surprise.

Marc Dimov has been photographing fish in silhouette, looking to bring attention to overfishing. He spent several years as the in-house photographer for Wild Edibles, and sees his work as,"making a simple photograph in order to suggest a bigger idea." His formal fish portraits have a classic sense to them, and I like his intent to create images about the effects of our eating habits on the environment.

Robert Watermeyer
, a South African photographer talked about two photographs from his series, "This Land," photographing the American West. He spoke of the "sublime splendor" he found, and said the project, "allows me to contribute something to the dialog of the American West."

Georgie Friedman showed her grid-based "Flight Series," which deals with the concept of time, in the flight progression of high-altitude balloons.

Then it was off to the group show in a large open space. It was well hung and featured interesting work by emerging photographers from the US, Canada and the UK--the raison d'etre of Flash Forward.

The work of Shanghoon Jeong of Canada, Indre Serpytyte and David Plummer of the UK really stood out for me.

Indre Serpytyte's work shows small black & white houses, like doll houses to represent "Former NKVD-MVD-MGB-KGB Buildings" and makes her comment on the political history of the Cold War. In 2007, the British Journal of Photography wrote about Serpytyte's work:

"Rather than representing the buildings themselves, or showing the inhabitants or victims directly, Serpytyte uses commissioned, hand-carved wooden models, based on archival research and site visits to comment on both the physical and humanitarian scale of the conflict and to enunciate the echo of the memory of the events as they have faded over time. The houses seem like cold corpses, sculptures symbolic of the empty spaces where their real selves once thrived, and where memories are slowly dying. They are sealed, containing their stories, and their entity becomes placeless."

The images are stark, small on a large, bland landscape and bloodless, even as they depict places where terribly bloody things occurred.

I loved the still life of a burning flower from Shanghoon Jeong. Turning something as beautiful as a flower into something dangerous and bordering on ugly intrigues me. Instead of the natural death, he incites it's death through fire.

David Plummer's work was a series of portraits of a man suffering from an incurable neurological disease. By photographing the man straight on, we see the slow and sometimes imperceptible paralyzing end. The subject's courage to be photographed is honored in the unsparing and unfussy way Plummer presents him to us.

There is a lot of good work there, and if you're in the area I encourage you to come by and see the work for yourself. I'm looking forward to the rest of the festival, and the panel I'm on tomorrow.

I'm going to keep blogging through Sunday, so come back and read more.

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