MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Thesis Exhibition 2018
School of Visual Arts presents an exhibition of thesis work by the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media class of 2018. Curated by the program’s coordinator of special projects and alumnus Liz Zito (2015) and alumnus Hilary Schaffner (2010), the exhibition will be on view from Saturday, June 23, through Saturday, July 14, at the SVA Chelsea Gallery, 601 West 26th Street, 15th floor, New York City. Additionally, a thesis screening, featuring time-based works, will show on Monday, June 25, and Tuesday, June 26, at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street, New York City.
For 30 years, MFA Photography, Video, and Related Media has been known for bringing together image-makers from all over the world. While technology advances at a rapid pace, the department’s sense of global community acts as anchor, nurturing and exchanging ideas and experiences. While this new home at SVA often feels a long journey away from where one started, it is a place that can offer reflection: “How did we get here?” The world is constantly shifting around us; thus, the common thread in all the thesis work in our 2018 exhibition: a journey of change. Whether it be psychological state or physical locations, the graduates have mastered the lens as a means of expression and honor the camera as a tool to make sense of our world’s progression.
The subjective becomes subject matter for several graduates in their journey to a place called “home.” In Emily Cohen’s intensely personal short film Cupboards she pieces together archival home movies and present-day parental interviews to explore her parents’ divorce and mother’s infidelity, ultimately revealing her own connection to the family. Continuing to draw inspiration from family, Chris Janaro’s project Coming Home points the camera towards his hometown in rural Central New York. Taking an “outsiders” stance, Janaro explores perceived stereotypes of a small rural town. Drawing on personal relationships and an eye for detail he creates images that are both intimate and observational. Alison Gootee’s project Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler takes her back to her home of New Orleans, where she photographed the heavy, obtrusive, man-made structures used to pump water and keep the city from flooding. With great skill and sensitivity, Gootee captures the uncertain future of a city in submergence.
Several graduates take on the relevant subject matter of female sexuality and reclaiming control over its cultural depiction. Emma Milligan’s Watching Me, Watching You investigates how new media and the Internet have affected misogyny and current gender inequality. In Dodo Xinyu Zhang’s Idle Character, she creates images with herself as the subject matter, mimicking and exaggerating elements of Japanese porn posters. The images call into question her own sexual identity as an Asian woman and the broader social implication of the proliferation and use of this type of imagery. In Jing Lin’s massive installation A Cyborg Orgy, the viewer enters a 16-foot tall bubble, housing a fantastical world of artificial intelligence. Playing with the idea of manufactured desire and fetishization of technology, one can lounge in Lin’s bubble house for hours contemplating the difference between genetic and binary code.
Also represented in the gallery are 3D-capture sandstone sculptures by Zachary Boozer, entitled Non-Euclidean Objects. Johnnie Chatman’s breathtaking self-portraits in Western U.S. landscapes are only matched by the complexity of the juxtaposed text exploring personal identity and space in his series I Forgot Where We Were; is here…. Rebecca Krasnik reimagines time with her thought-provoking and humorous installation On, Towards and In Front of Time. Zhi Li explores his own identity with the use of models draped in different material in his photo series Vortex. Julianne Nash’s Agglomeration series of prints, including a lenticular, show off her unique technical skill and process with abstract imagery. Xiaolin Wang’s Unbearable Pressure conceptually dissects the lens and presents installation work based on depression evoking different emotions with each handcrafted object on view. Mijia Xu transports us back to her grandparents’ house by the shore in China with her installation Summer Night Chimera.
The first night of the Thesis Screening, Monday, June 25, will feature Naixin Xu’s The Drive: 6 Days, 4392KM, 30,000 Yuan and Natchiket Guttikar’s Tanewe, two vastly different journeys in documentary film. On the second night, Tuesday, June 26, Lishan Liu will deliver a critical message with her slickly shot commercials, which will be screened between Twilight Sleep, an ethereal experimental short film on insomnia by Youwon Jeong, and Yi Qian’s Life Drawing, a heartfelt documentary about the history of her family and art education in China. Also showing on the second night will be Xiaochen Zhao’s massive, mesmerizing Inner Landscape, which pines for nature and evokes the beauty and grace of a Chinese scroll painting.