Photography And Group Identity:
At the Mishkin Gallery, September 24 – October 22, 2010
Photographs of people in groups can convey a broad range of subject matter and meaning, from the familial and fraternal to the disturbing and sinister. Social constructs and perceptions influence both our individual and collective identities, as the work of the eleven photographs in this exhibition demonstrates.
A Social Context: Group Photography and Identity will be at the Mishkin Gallery from Friday, September 24 – Friday, October 22, 2010. Opening reception, Thursday, September 23, 6 – 8 pm. Free and Open to the Public.
This exhibition includes images that have become touchstones of 20th century history and culture. The French photographer Gilles Peress has chronicled the trauma of violence and war in Rwanda, Bosnia, Iran and Ireland. His images can be disturbing and heart-rending; they are never sentimental. In these eloquent photos, group identities, ethnic and tribal, provide the impetus for violence and fear. Especially shocking is Candace Scharsu’s portrait of a female child soldier in Sierra Leone, branded for life with RUF (Revolutionary United Front) etched on her chest. Her affiliation with the group, however involuntary, is permanent.
Neal Slavin and Milt Hinton, also represented in this exhibition, reflects more benign context for their group images. Slavin’s photographs are carefully arranged, often in neat rows, to show company employees, hobbyists or organization members, joined in a common endeavor, with a group identity superimposed on disparate individuals. In contrast, the great jazz bassist Milt Hinton, who photographed his fellow musicians throughout his life, often took advantage of the moment to capture images of jazzmen at work and play. His photographs, taken in train stations, recording studios, barrooms and street corners, are spontaneous and fluid, but collectively they document the lives of musicians, particularly African-American musicians, in a world where they were often segregated and marginalized.
Considered a master of the ”snapshot aesthetic,” Elliott Erwitt captures his subjects, frequently people with their pets, with casual humor and grace. His fascination with the unexpected moment in the midst of the mundane is shared by Andy Warhol. Often associated with glamour, spectacle and celebrity, Warhol was equally fascinated with the banal. His groupings can be intimate, as in photos of Sean Lennon’s birthday with family and friends, or anonymous, as in the many streetscapes he snapped as casual and random signposts of his comings and goings.
All photographs in this exhibition are from the permanent collection of Baruch College. The photographers represented include Elliott Erwitt, Larry Fink, Milt Hinton, Garry Winogrand, Lucien Clergue, Neal Slavin, Gilles Peress, Candace Scharsu, Leonard Sussman, Carrie Mae Weems, and Andy Warhol. The exhibition is curated by Mishkin Gallery director Sandra Kraskin.
The Mishkin Gallery is located at 135 E. 22nd Street, New York City. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Friday, Noon to 5 pm; Thursday, Noon to 7 pm.
Zane Berzins (news office)
Sandra Kraskin (gallery)