Edition 26 April 2018, by Michelle Havard
For those unacquainted with modern and contemporary forms of art, the status of photography as a vital element in the artistic sphere may be less than obvious, but photography has been and continues to be one of many relevant art forms. The exhibition addresses both the transience of time understood from photographic moments and the temporal and physical limitations of photographic mediums, such as polaroids, light exposure and more. It induces a moment of reflection concerning the museum’s operations, and the observant asks themselves questions such as, “How can the museum maintain their photographic pieces of art?” For a moment, even if it may be fleeting, the visitor places themselves in the position of the museum personnel.
Further, the exhibition can be found stretched along five galleries, and each gallery explores a different theme within the scope of the impermanence of photography. The first room, if you approach the exhibition from the left side of the museum, is darkened with a movie being projected upon the wall. It explains the story of Sardasht Osman, who was a student and protestor killed in Iraqi Kurdistan. Emeric Lhuisset later went to the region and put up posters of the slain student. These were damaged by the sun and left blackened, and there is one such poster in the room next to the movie. There is also a gallery dedicated to invoking damage onto photography to experiment with this art form. Ania Bien’s piece in this gallery demonstrates the journey into adulthood by showing the face of a young girl fading into whiteness and her adult face emerging from the same shade of white. In the same spirit of this gallery, the third gallery illustrates the adversities that come with trying to maintain photography created with non-traditional materials, for the disintegration can either be inevitable or difficult to prevent.
The forth gallery entertains the notion of a presence of otherness which may not be physically depicted in the photograph. The artists displayed in this gallery all seem to be utilizing the theme of human presence in nature. Finally, the fifth gallery explores the decisions made by the photographers themselves; they often are faced with the dilemma of reproducing their work or limiting production. One can observe the decisions made by the artists in the photographs on display in this gallery. If you are curious about photography and its artistic role, I would advise heading over to Stedelijk Museum and taking a look at this exhibition; it can be quite educational for an artistic or photographic layman.
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam