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Public Responsibility:
Contemporary Photography of the Americas

July 9, 2003 – December 31, 2003

This exhibition includes a broad scope of work from artists of varying backgrounds and points of view. For instance, Elia Alba, who resides in New York, creates her pieces by using doll heads that she builds to be the size of actual human heads, beginning with a color photocopy of her subject. Alba places the photocopies onto muslin, and then stuffs muslin with polyester filing, giving the newborn “head” the appearance of a pillow. She then photographs her heads in different environments so they will manifest their relationship with that particular setting. She stresses that she does not portray body less heads to create a sense of death, but rather to bring out the “I” of the head within the context of a landscape.

Colombia artist Sandra Bermudez takes extreme close-up photographs of her own lips. She mouths words that are usually uttered to loved ones while taking these pictures, examining the mouth as a means of verbal and physical communication.

Also included in “Public Responsibility” is Guatemalan human rights activist Daniel Hernández-Salazar. In his work, he calls attention to the human tendency to look the other way from acts of violence. His interests are in the potential for public intervention in the face of violence, and is his piece “Memoria de un angel,” he addresses the killing of Guatemalan priest and activist Monseñor Juan Gerardi following his documentation of civilians’ testimonies of the experiences in the Guatemalan Civil War.

Ecuadorian artist Diego Cifuentes finds that the world is presently pregnant with a never before seen level of violence. Similar to Hernández-Salazar, Cifuentes takes note of public acts of violence seeping into more private spaces, the consequences of which are perhaps inescapable.

Particularly arresting is Albert Chong’s piece “In Memory of James Byrd,” a still life memorial to an African-American man from Jasper, Texas who was brutally murdered by three white men. Mr. Byrd was dragged behind their pickup truck for several miles until his body was unrecognizably dismembered. Chong memorializes Byrd with his photograph of the truck’s license plate, which had been adorned with yellow roses.

Venezuelan artist Alexander Apostol pieces together photographic images through collage and other means. Maria Leyva, AMA permanent collection curator writes that Apostol “focuses on the theme of masculinity and interprets diverse meanings associated with the idea of the ‘macho’. Apostol satirizes masculine behavior patterns in images that have an urban and popular flavor”

Also involved in this exhibit are Jorge Alban (Costa Rica), Claudia Andujar (Brazil), Jaime Avila (Colombia), Trinidad Carrillo (Peru), Luz Elena Castro (Colombia), Rita Fischer (Uruguay), Eldon Garnet (Canada), and Diana Molina (United States).

Rounding out the exhibit is a work from the permanent collection by Marcelo Brodsky.