Paris. The Big Pond in the Tuileries, 1963
A few empty chairs were left unorganized by the Big Pond in the Tuileries, a public garden located in Paris between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, taking up the foreground of the left bottom corner of this photograph. A young teenager places a boat into the pond with a man standing a few feet away looking at him. There are more chairs behind them, together with the few in the front, forming a circle around the pond. A few sculptures were presented in the Tuileries Garden with a few pedestrians in the far back.
André Kertész was a Hungarian-born photographer known for his use of perspectives and geometric compositions. The composition of this photograph created a strong contrast between the sharp chair frames in the front and the soft ripple in the pond with the foggy faded background. Human traces can be seen through the arrangement of the chairs, and the pigeon under a chair is eating leftover food from someone who probably just left the scene.
San Marcos, Texas, 1964
Four empty white chairs sit in the foreground beside a white table. A glass window reflecting, or perhaps revealing, a mediative aftermath. Winogrand’s images usually depict dynamic social moments full of life and movement, but in this photograph, the life of the scene is absent. We can imagine a group of young people laughing and joking over a late-night snack at a local diner, but instead all we get are the remnants of this experience.
Garry Winogrand is an American photographer known for making photographs of everyday American life in the tradition of Robert Frank and Walker Evans. He would often capture these scenes on cross-country road trips.
Chicken, Chihuahua (Cushua), Mexico, 1975
The title of this Frank DiPerna photograph places us in Chihuahua, Mexico in 1975, the largest of 32 states in Mexico, neighboring Texas and New Mexico, the United States. In plain view, a wall stretches across and beyond each side of the frame. Plastered (or, perhaps, painted) onto the wall is an image of a chicken, clouds fill the sky above. The photograph is white-washed, cinematic, the subject not as much the object of the chicken, but of the border placed between us (the viewer), and the landscape imagined beyond the wall.
Frank DiPerna (1947-2020) was a pioneer of modern landscape photography, with a skilled eye for strong horizons, desert scenes, and earthy tones. DiPerna sought justice, and followed an eagerness to travel, to teach, to listen, and to learn throughout his life. DiPerna’s studies centered photography, as he gathered experiences throughout the United States, from Pittsburgh, to Washington DC, to Colorado, New York, and Virginia (where he finally received a master’s degree at Goddard College, 1977) and Europe, teaching photography in Italy, France, and Mexico. DiPerna founded the BFA in Fine Art Photography at the Corcoran School of Art and Design (a program which still thrives from his legacy to this day). As a professor, DiPerna was eager to continue to learn, to grow, and to question.
DiPerna can teach us new ways to look at our own landscapes, environments, communities, contexts. In this photograph, allow the symbol of a chicken to pose the question, are walls meant to insight fear or portray dominance? Are walls meant to keep some people separate from their neighbors? Do walls further a narrative of exclusion and segregation? Are walls temporary? Are walls necessary?
This exhibition stands in support
of immigrants and refugees.
To learn how to get involved, please visit: www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org
We acknowledge the lives that have been lost to COVID-19. We acknowledge the families who are grieving. We feel the separation. We see the disparity in the loss of this pandemic for communities of color and acknowledge the systemic oppression that makes it so. We call for and uplift voices of action and change. We acknowledge the loss, the isolation. We saw empty chairs commemorating 200,000 lives lost in October 2020, and remember that, while we have a long way to go, we have an opportunity to come out of this stronger, supporting one another.
COVID Survivors for Change’s mission is to find community in isolation, uniting to “demand a responsible, data-backed approach to pandemic prevention”. Their goal is to connect, advocate, respond, and empower.
Please visit www.covidsurvivorsforchange.org
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