I have been wanting to write this blog post for a few weeks now but have been a tad busy with life. But I am glad I waited. Sometimes I'll read or see something and react so quickly that I'll review what I wrote and not always think I got it right.
Now, being a few weeks from the exhibition my thoughts haven't changed.
Unsettled: Photography and Politics in Contemporary Art is now showing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
I was very exhcited to actually be able to see this exhibition and that it was being sown in Philadelphia.
This is what got me excited:
Unsettled: Photography and Politics in Contemporary Art presents work by nine artists who used photography to address some of the most controversial political and social issues of the late 1970s through the early 1990s, including feminism, racism, the AIDS crisis, and gay activism. Looking at a diverse range of pictorial strategies, and at works that are by turns confrontational and contemplative, Unsettled examines the historical reasons why many artists made provocative photo-based works in the 1980s, and invites viewers to consider why some of this art still causes controversy, twenty or thirty years after it was made.
So with that, you know I had to go. A few weeks ago my wife and I eagerly went to view this exhibition. The only high point to this exhibition was I had the opportunity again, to see a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph up close and personal. As for the rest of the exhibition it was, safe.
They had a advisory before you walked in warning you of images that might elicit strong reaction from the viewers... yawn.
Don't get me wrong, the work was interesting. With work by Nan Goldin, Peter Hujar, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres Serrano, Lorna Simpson, and Carrie Mae Weems, they had the opportunity to really show the pulse of the country and the art world during the time period.
But, alas, it was safe. They chose images from these artists that were not shocking or thought provoking. They did what the Philadelphia Museum always does, they coped out.
The art circles in Philadelphia are so conservative that even the museum is afraid to really show what they want. At least I want to think they want to. This exhibition could not have been what they actually wanted to show. At least I hope not.
Wit all that said, you show view trhe exhibition which is at the Perelman Building across the street from the main museum. I would be very interested to hear your views on this subject.
Anyone of you who has seem my work knows I do not shy away from controversy and maybe this has made me skew my views.
So visit and support the museum and let me know your thoughts.
Untitled (We are your circumstantial evidence)
Barbara Kruger, American
Gelatin silver prints