How can a camera capture a moment of seismic political shift, and how can the person behind the camera use their perspective to effect change? These questions and more are tackled by the 17 works on display in the Leubsdorf’s Gallery’s new exhibition, Framing Community: Magnum Photos, 1947-Present. This exhibition is part of a city-wide celebration of the 70th anniversary of Magnum, a cooperative photo agency founded to give humanist photographers more agency, both in their careers and in the activist world.
“We are so privileged to have one of our nation’s leading historians of photography, the extraordinary Maria Antonella Pelizzari, bring this kind of exceptional work to Hunter’s galleries and into the lives of Hunter students,” said Hunter President Jennifer J. Raab.
Curated by Professor Pelizzari, this exhibition about community represents the work of a newly formed community: the graduate students enrolled in Professor Pelizzari’s Advanced Curatorial Certificate seminar. While the theme of the exhibition was selected by the professor, the students chose the featured artworks themselves, wrote all the accompanying materials, including the accompanying catalogue, and were responsible for the show’s design and execution.
The Advanced Curatorial Certificate program, open to art students who are currently pursuing or recently earned their MA or MFA from Hunter, offers a two-semester overview of all facets of the curatorial process, from theory to execution. This seminar, which has long been offered by the Department of Art and Art History, was recently approved as a Certificate-granting program, and Finding Community represents the first exhibition-culmination of the program.
This year’s cohort dove into the background of the Magnum movement, researching the development of photojournalism and the surrounding cultural phenomena. They read about curatorial history and process and embarked on a deep exploration of the legacy of the Magnum photography community. They decided to group the artworks into four sections that each dealt with the concept of community differently: Longing for Community, Shifting Community, Contested Territories, and Displaced Community. The pieces depict families, refugees, civil war, protest, and quiet moments of calm amidst political instability. Spanning Magnum’s 70-year history, the exhibition includes pieces by some very young artists, and some long deceased.
The students found that the images — Professor Antonella referred to the pictures as “little poems” — had taken on new resonance; images of refugees in the ’70s, they realized, could just as easily be taken from last week’s newspaper. “My relationship to this work changed dramatically over the past year, which speaks to the power of a group like Magnum, which can take on renewed relevance and import in a shifting political structure,” said Ella Hall, a student and member of the cohort.
The exhibition runs Wednesday–Sunday, 1–6pm until November 26, 2017.