Posts Tagged 'Exhibition'

The Artist and the Exhibition

Preparing and presenting an exhibition at the DIA involves months of planning with a team of museum professionals who strive to make the experience of viewing art pleasurable and informative for a wide range of museum visitors. When I sat down to discuss the exhibition Kenro Izu Sacred Places with co-curator Amelia Chau, interpretive educator Madeleine Winslow, and designer Everett Kaiser in January 2008, we saw the photographs as powerful representations of many ancient sacred sites – the great pyramids of Cairo, the temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia, and the ruins of Petra, among other places. We developed a strategy to express the meaning of the work in very clear terms by installing the work by geographical regions, using wall texts to describe the importance and sacredness of each site, and also including maps for those of us who are geographically challenged so-to-speak.

We agreed that Kenro has a very successful method of evoking “the sacred” and expressing a particular sense of a place in his photographs through formal means, and the exhibition clearly demonstrates this. Kenro creates dramatic compositions, and waits for the right lighting conditions to express the “spirit” or essence of a place. He pays particular attention to texture of the materials  used to build the structures and monuments including stone, volcanic ash, and mud brick as well as qualities of the natural landscape. His choice of photograph printing, the platinum palladium process, accentuates these details as the process yields fine detail in a photographic print.

Interestingly, we also agreed how seamless the process could look to the to our visitors, in other words, they may be thinking that Kenro very easily snapped a beautiful picture without much effort, but in actuality, he often makes arduous journeys through remote parts of the world, climbing mountains, hiking through jungles, and camping outdoors in all types of weather conditions to create his photographs. His camera alone weighs nearly 300 pounds! And his large negatives measure 14 x 18 inches, so he is limited to the amount of film he can bring to a particular site. Exposure of each negative must be carefully calculated. The negatives are then brought back to his U.S. studio for processing and printing. All in all, a painstaking process, but not without its rewards.

Kenro Izu@The DIA

Sacred Places, an exhibition of 56 stunning black-and-white platinum prints by Kenro Izu, opened yesterday at the DIA in the newly refurbished Albert and Peggy de Salle Gallery of Photography. Visitors to the museum are falling under the spell of these beautiful photographs often from ancient and remote areas in Asia, the Middle East in addition to views of Stonehenge and Easter Island.

I was fortunate to spend a day at Kenro’s studio in upstate New York earlier this year with Amelia Chau, my DIA colleague and co-curator of Sacred Places. Kenro has been photographing sacred sites throughout the world for over 10 years and published a book this year with recent work he made while traveling through the country of Bhutan, where he photographed in monasteries and villages. To hear the artist speak of his work is always a pleasure and a privilege, and I would encourage readers to attend his lecture (free with museum admission) in the DIA’s Lecture Hall on Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 2PM.


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