Arresting Images, an exhibit of more than 40 photographs by contemporary
photographers drawn from public and private collections on display at The George
Washington Universitys LutherW.BradyArtGallery.
Exhibition Dates: Thursday, November 20, 2003 Friday, January 16, 2004
Gallery Hours:Tuesday Friday,
The GeorgeWashingtonUniversity, LutherW.BradyArtGallery
Media and PublicAffairsBuilding 2nd floor, 805 21st Street, NW
Washington, D.C. (Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro, Blue and Orange lines)
Free and open to the public.
In planning for about three years, the exhibition, Arresting Images, is curated by professional philosopher Peter Caws, GW University Professor of Philosophy, working hand in hand with professional photographer Nancy Breslin (M.F.A., University of Delaware, 2000). Pivotal to the experience of viewing art in a gallery is being stopped, arrested by the power of the image. The photographs assembled in this exhibit share this ability to hold the viewer.
In the illustrated catalogue written by Caws that accompanies the exhibition, he poses the question: What is phenomenology on the honor system? To paraphrase Caws, the viewer confronts an image in the gallery setting and has the chance to receive its impact before being able to label it. In another approach to the concept of mining the museum, Caws was invited by the Luther W. Brady Gallerys professional staff to participate in selecting from the nearly 1,000 photographs that constitute a diverse resource of photography in the GW Permanent Collection. Caws and Breslin assembled the exhibition from three sources: the University Gallery Teaching Collection of the University of Delaware, the GW Permanent Collection and private collections.
Photographers represented include Louis Faurer, Sally Gall, Philippe Halsman, Paul Strand, N. Jay Jaffee, Nancy Breslin and others. In many cases, the human presence (or lack thereof) takes precedence over the architectural or natural setting. Even in the seascape, Evidence of Wind, by Gall, while the composition emphasizes an expanse of sea and sky, it is the presence of the tiny sailboat that draws the eye.
Works of art that seem intended to contain meaning tend to be less interesting than those that are occasions of meaning, whatever anyones intention; the dialogues that the latter provoke are not mainly between author and reader, between photographer and viewer, but between readers, between viewers, writes Caws. In Faurers photograph, Broad Street Trust Company Philadelphia, PA 1939,a man holds a cane and bears the sign I am paralyzed. The social meaning of this photograph is deliberate and clear. In contrast, the photograph by Stettner, entitled Parking Lot, Volendam, Holland presents a cryptic arrangement of three figures, a sign and bicycles. The viewer searches for his or her own meaning from the image. By combining approaches to the disciplines of philosophy and photography, the curators have brought up many provocative and unorthodox approaches to art appreciation, which stimulates discussion and encourages visitor interaction with the exhibition.