Roger Ballen: photographs. Helen Altman: Cerca series. Roger Ballen, a native New Yorker who has lived in South Africa since the 1970s, creates startling, confrontational, and intensely personal photographs. MCASD's third Cerca Series exhibition showcases the playful installation, painting, and sculpture of artist Helen Altman.
Roger Ballen: photographs. Helen Altman: Cerca series
ROGER BALLEN: PHOTOGRAPHS
december 5, 2002 through february 16, 2003
Roger Ballen, a native New Yorker who has lived in South Africa since the 1970s, creates startling, confrontational, and intensely personal photographs. Blurring the boundaries between documentary photography and constructed installations, Ballenâ€™s art confounds expectation and challenges assumptions about the medium, his subjects, and the role of the photographer. Roger Ballen: Photographs presents a survey of the artistâ€™s photography, from his early architectural images made in the tradition of Walker Evans to his recent staged tableaus of rural denizens. These portraits of forgotten civil servants, their children, maids, and pets are studies of the degradation and failure of apartheid. Shot with a direct flash his poor white subjects, their personalities and their flaws, are depicted in stark relief set against the walls of their homes. Devoid of political correctness or sympathy, Ballenâ€™s portraits expose political and social realities often ignored in contemporary South Africa. Roger Ballen: Photographs was organized by MCASD and will travel to the Berkeley Museum of Art and other venues in the United States.
This exhibition is made possible thanks to the annual contributions of stART Up, MCASD's support group of young professionals. Additional support is provided by grants from the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the California Arts Council.
CERCA SERIES: HELEN ALTMAN
DECEMBER 12, 2002 through FEBRUARY 16, 2003
MCASD's third Cerca Series exhibition showcases the playful installation, painting, and sculpture of artist Helen Altman. Exploring notions of reality versus artificiality in everyday life, Altman captures images of nature in unnatural ways, expressing such universal ideas permanence, transcience, protection, vulnerability, nurturing, and sacrifice. For this exhibition, the Museum has commissioned Altman to create Ark (freestanding), an 11-foot tower of over 100 glowing electric fire logs. With its mock flames and simulated crackling of burning wood, the work speaks to society's need to manufacture "nature" and our nostalgia for simple comforts.
Four works from Altman's latest series of moving blankets demonstrate her ability to capture the vulnerability of common creatures in larger-than-life reproductions of isolated animals. Altman's thermal-painted canvases sewn into moving blankets use found images of natural subjects- chickens, rabbits, cows, and dogs- in ways that highlight their distance from nature. Layers of artifical materials, such as synthetic fabrics and inks, false colors, and digitally reproduced imagery, combine to communicate the human compulsion to imitate nature.
This exhibition also includes an installtion of Altman's wire bird sculptures. For these works, the artist drew inspiration from the wild birds that inhabit her yard, weaving wire of different gauges into bird forms easily identifiable by species that mimic movements and personalities of actual birds. The sculptures often contain assorted objects related to the species of bird, or nesting materials used in both bird and human home building. Altman's MCASD exhibition, organized by Assistant Curator Stephanie Hanor, is her first solo presentation on the West Coast.
This exhibition is made possible by a gift from Gus and Terri Colachis. Additional support for the Cerca Series comes from the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.
Image: Roger Ballen, Dresie and Casie, twins, western transvaal, 1993
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