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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, June 15, 2024

Arts

The Setonian
Arts

With Lauren, high art meets hot cars at the MFA

The Daily's job, with respect to the fine-arts world, is to reflect and comment upon what's being put out there. This semester, we've seen quite a bit of art that has raised a few questions. We've seen a controversial dead lamb encased in a formaldehyde solution by Damien Hirst, 7,500 gates installed in Central Park, and you may even have heard about the mock-gates made out of toothpicks by a man in Somerville - so why not showcase cars as works of art? And why not cars owned by designer Ralph Lauren? Actually, a link between fashion and cars is not so ill-conceived. After all, Vanna White stood next to innumerable cars during her career on "Wheel of Fortune" wearing just as many different dresses. And then there's that annoying Buick commercial with the woman wearing a succession of slinky dresses to match the cars. In 1920s France and Italy, automotive beauty contests called concours d'elegance came into prevalence. At these shows, fashion designers would present their designs and provide live models to accompany the cars. While the cars at the MFA don't have models by their sides waving at the crowd, it is clear that many of them are there because of their good looks. Or is it what's inside that counts? The 1937 Bugatti Type 57 SC Gangloff Drophead Coupe had it all when it was put out. This model, which reflects the sleek and low-profiled style of its time, clocks in with a top speed of 115 mph, and has an added supercharger to increase its power. Ralph's 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder was also noted for its appealing aesthetics, somehow using spiders as a gimmick to make this car seem cute. This is the model that James Dean crashed in, resulting in both his death and an increase in sales thereafter. It was not unusual for the Californian elite to latch onto a particular model. The 1950 Jaguar XK120 Alloy Roadster, for which the company planned the production of only 200 vehicles, became a quick success and was owned by both Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Among the vehicles showcased are Bugattis, Porsches, Jaguars, Mercedes, Ferraris, Alpha Romeos and McLarens. No American cars are present, and there are cars on display that were never even geared toward an American market. The dynamic 1988 Porsche 959 AG, which has an all-wheel drive designed for multiple usages as a road car, race car, and rally car, are only owned by a few people within the United States. The 1933 Bugatti Type 59 Grand Prix gets the award for character. The radiator is shaped like the archway leading into the city of Molsheim in France, the home of the Bugatti factory. Adorning the outside are leather straps and external brake lines. This one caps at 135 mph, though given its antique appearance, this might not be something you'd want to try at home. Also of note is the Bugatti Atlantic, which has an exposed seam that runs down the spine of the car. If cars are linked to fashion, then the body of a car is unavoidably associated with the human body, most traditionally with the female body. Phrases such as "she's my baby" or "is she running hot?" come to mind. Well, lets just say, no such thing could be uttered of this particular model. Along with the cars, the MFA presents profiles of the manufacturers and designers of each type of vehicle, with an implied postulation that each personality is reflected in the respective car's design. Enzo Ferrari, who took equal interest in opera, journalism, and car racing, presided over the design of each of his models, giving his personal input on line, form and other aesthetics. Ferdinand Porsche was an amazing and innovative engineer who by his early twenties designed the first hybrid car. Funny how that was over one hundred years ago, and they still haven't caught on, eh? In case visitors forget that these cars belong to Ralph Lauren, there are videos playing inside the gallery to remind them. One features Ralph Lauren driving on the grounds of the Crane Estate in Ipswich MA, with wind flying through his hair and long shots of the mansion and greens in the background. These videos invoke both the sense of elitist beauty that is inherent in the cars themselves, and also the $22 entrance fee that burns a hole in visitors' wallets. Let's see ... there were about 200 people in the gallery, which puts ticket sales for the 11:00 viewing at loosely ... $4,400 dollars. With a day's worth of ticket sales, someone could be well on their way to purchasing a hybrid.


The Setonian
Arts

Hands-on exhibit comes straight out of kindergarten

When the housing lottery treats you wrong, deadlines for those lengthy summer internship applications draw ever closer, and you don't even want to think of that 15-page paper you have due next week, it's easy to long for the comforts of kindergarten: construction paper came in every conceivable color, scissors were made for lefties and righties alike, and who can forget the familiar taste of paste? But why stop at mere nostalgic reverie when you can grab some friends and hop on the T for a short trip to Central Square, the home of Art Interactive, where you can indulge in some creative R&R and color outside the lines to your heart's content. Founded in 2001, Art Interactive is a non-profit gallery dedicated to showcasing experimental, participatory works while fostering self-expression and communal interaction. It takes a while to find its decidedly unobtrusive entrance (the bland, brown building has only a small sheet of paper tacked to the door to let you know you're in the right place). However, soon after ringing the bell, visitors are ushered inside to the unique 2,500-square foot space, whose foyer is currently graced by a Technicolor flock of cranes, an installation created by local origami artist Andrew Anselmo, who will be hosting a workshop at the gallery on March 24. The white walls of the main gallery provide a blank canvas, while huge windows look out to the colorful chaos that is Central Square; the templates for the projects are scattered about, and this main room is also home to the workstations, aquamarine booths where you'll find all the supplies you need to take part in this interactive experience. The current exhibition, "The Paper Sculpture Show," which runs through March 27, explores the manifold potential of this humblest of mediums. Organized by Cabinet Magazine, Independent Curators International, and SculptureCenter, the show invites guests to create 3-D paper projects designed by the 29 featured artists, and thus the works on display are all produced by the visitors-turned-collaborators. By blurring the line between artist and observer, this innovative exhibition asks open-ended questions about the nature of art: can anyone ever really own a work of art? And at what point is a work truly finished? The playful assemblage of projects includes everything from origami-esque polygons to build, to a village of witches to burn. Some of the projects are just plain silly, like David Shrigley's "Paper Sculpture," whose directions tell you to "earmark the westernmost corner of the starboard half," before "puckering the evenly-divided plane," all to take you to the one-word 22nd step: unfold. Tah dah! You're left with your masterpiece ... a crumpled piece of paper. Be forewarned: some of the projects are seriously challenging, like Ellen Wetmore's "Paper Pandalus." A pandalus, for those weak in crustacean classification, is a type of crayfish, and Wetmore's lengthy instructions detail all the cuts, lateral compressions, and manual maneuverings needed to assemble the impressive 3-D model. Perhaps because of the challenging nature of some of the projects, many patrons chose to forgo the directives altogether and do their own thing, taking elements from different templates to fashion their own unique creations, like the bizarre dreamscape that had been displayed near my work station. These products were, in their way, no less powerful than the ones designed by the artists, reinforcing the dynamic role of the individual in transforming the two-dimensional materials into unique 3-D objects. I decided to tackle a project designed by Ester Partegas, entitled "Things You Don't Like," which involved creating a recycling receptacle into which I would discard all my failings, written down on the paper provided. Although it sounds corny, assembling the project was a calming, meditative experience, and afterwards I felt a lovely sense of catharsis at "recycling" all my flaws into a work of art (I am, of course, using the term "art" very generously here) that would remain with the collection. So whether you are seeking to indulge your passion for art, aching to prove to your friends that you're indie-er-than-thou, or are simply stressed out by your studies and in need of a few moments of kindergarten bliss, Art Interactive is a most offbeat and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.


The Setonian
Arts

Art that will 'Freeze' you in your tracks

Viewing Damien Hirst's exhibition is a physically altering experience. It's hard to put a finger on it, but it may have something to do with the thousands of fly carcasses that are glued onto a square frame on the wall and exude an odor which suffuses its way through the Foster Gallery. If visitors can overcome the temptation to purge these feelings that Hirst's work inspires, the unfortunate first impression may just morph into something that is closer to infatuation. The MFA exhibit is made up of a collection of Hirst's past works. Almost directly in front of the entrance is a piece entitled "Away from the Flock," a lamb in a glass container filled with formaldehyde. Though it seems counterintuitive when looking at his more morbid works, Hirst was raised in a religiously observant household, and his concern for the sacred is a prevalent theme in his work. He has determined that his belief in art is similar to a belief in God and that the two are therefore linked. In "Flock," Hirst succeeds quite literally in preserving the symbol of the sacrificed Christ, yet he also makes a spectacle of it. It's hard to figure out whether to pray or laugh while viewing this piece and the materials used heading on the museum plate, which reads, "Steel, glass, formaldehyde solution, and lamb." Animals, alive and dead, make up much of the material of Hirst's work. Butterflies are one of his many fascinations. In a quotation that accompanies one piece, "The Unbearable Likeness of Being," Hirst declares, "You need to find universal triggers. Everyone's frightened of glass, everyone's frightened of sharks, everyone loves butterflies." To show us exactly how much we love butterflies, Hirst has ripped the wings off of their dead bodies and created an aesthetically gratifying pattern with them on a light green backdrop. What were once beautiful living creatures, in this new form, are suggestive of both life and death. The overall impression is that of a stained glass window in a church, which shares the idea of preservation that the lone lamb evokes, but strongly portrays a sense of religious eternity. "The Collector" consists of an animatronic man inside a greenhouse made of glass, who is intently examining a dead butterfly, while live ones flutter all around him. He is a virtuoso so focused on his study that he is unaware of anything around him, and this gives the piece a Frankenstein-like quality. Perhaps to accentuate this eerie mad scientist aspect, there are broken glass jars with pigs' blood spilling out in each corner of the greenhouse in the piece, as well as a small plastic anatomy model with its guts spilling out onto the floor in front of the concentrating collector. Hirst's quote links the piece to the prettiness of girls and the preservation of beauty. Hirst demonstrates another tie between religion and art in "Is Nothing Sacred" (1997), a medicine cabinet with a very neatly displayed array of old medicine boxes and bottles. His attention to color and arrangement is apparent in this piece, as it is arranged in such a way that it would be sacrilege to remove anything from it: a very tempting sacrilege. This work was inspired by his mother's skepticism towards his art. She displayed a similar lack of understanding of both his art and of medicine, yet had complete trust in pharmaceuticals. He wanted to create something that demonstrated the relationship between these two seemingly opposite institutions. In his work, Hirst embraces opposing forces: life and death, beauty and disgust, heaven and hell; and even his critics seem to maintain inner dualities when considering his work. Media coverage has been a double edged sword for him, and has been concerned as much with his character as with his artwork. The often humorous titles of his work bring about the question: is Damien Hirst an innovative and talented artist or a hip young Brit with a sick sense of humor? After all, this is the guy whose band, Fat Les, sang the football-themed hit "Vindaloo." In 1988, when Hirst was a graduate student at Goldsmith's College in London, he organized an exhibition, "Freeze", which displayed his work and the work of 16 other students and helped to fuel the Young British Artist's movement. After the exposure he gained from "Freeze," Hirst went on to create his seminal piece, "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living"(1991), a tiger shark suspended in a tank filled with formaldehyde. In 1995, Hirst won the Turner Prize for art, and despite his mixed critiques, he has greatly influenced the contemporary art world. His work is indisputably dependent on their shock value, but it is up to the viewer to see what emotions are invoked after the initial shock of it. The artist himself, now approaching age 40, has moved away from making the sculptures that are on display at the MFA, and is about to open his first painting exhibition in New York on March 11.


The Setonian
Arts

Aidekman exhibits question societal pressures on women

The two spring exhibits currently on display at the Tufts University Gallery consequently form an interesting dichotomy; though one examines the world of young girls today and the other questions societal restrictions on their more mature counterparts, both "Girl Culture" and "Time Signatures" question our perception of the female form and force viewers to examine the societal pressures that shape the lives of all kinds of women. "Time Signatures" is the work of artist Barbara Zucker. The project's roots go back to 1989, when Zucker began a series of work called "For Beauty's Sake," which was based on the processes involved with plastic surgery. But her artwork evolved into something else in 1998, when Zucker began taking photographs of herself and of other mature women and then translating their facial wrinkles into prints and three-dimensional sculptures. The pieces that resulted from her project, perhaps fittingly, don't quite look as one would expect them to. They are twisted and curling, balancing against the walls, made out of rubber and metal and even Plexiglas. One stands over five feet tall in the center of the room, matching the height of the subject who donated her photograph for it. "They all started out right side up. I was being literal and dutiful," Zucker said. "But then I decided that they should go whatever way they look good. They evolved into moving parts that could change according to the space." The sculptures are all created from photographs, and stay true to the wrinkles in the faces of the pictured women. The subjects include Zucker herself (part of the back of her neck is on display on the left-hand wall of the exhibit) and several of her friends, as well as one piece that was made from a picture of artist Georgia O'Keefe. "I came up with the idea that wrinkles, fissures, lines on faces - female faces - are not in and of themselves ugly; it is the culture that tells us they are ugly," Zucker said. Zucker also created a 15-foot-tall piece specifically for the exhibit entitled, "Lilian's Face Flowing," with the help of a grant from the Artist's Resource Trust of New England. Her newest creation was made onsite and hangs cascading down from the second story of the Remis Sculpture Court. "I lurk in the margins. I do want to make a difference, no matter how small," Zucker said. "I would like women to feel better about the complex, amazing maps of their faces. And I would like men to like looking at these women, too. But equally, I want to flay my skin, and rail against the ravages of time." "Girl Culture," the first exhibit to open this week in the Aidekman Arts Center, was put together by award-winning photographer Lauren Greenfield as part of an attempt to examine the daily lives of girls everywhere. It consists of 58 photos and a series of corresponding interviews that provide a vivid look into the world of young women today. The series of photographs captures the lives of girls across the country and presents a wide cross-section of American females. Greenfield's youngest subject, six-year-old Lily, claims Britney Spears as her role model and shops for clothes in the ritzy Rachel London's Garden. Her statement says that, "I really want to be a teenager. Now. Really fast." In another shot, attendees at a weight loss camp wait uncomfortably on the beach in their bathing suits. Statements from some of them describe how, even in the camp setting, the thinnest and prettiest girls became the most popular. Further along in the series, four girls, barely old enough to be teenagers, pose in heavy makeup before their first dance, looking like they belong more in "Vogue" than in middle school. Greenfield captures the rituals associated with the everyday lives of girls everywhere, from daily routines of putting on makeup three times a day to the elaborate preparations involved in getting ready for one's high school prom. Rather than glorifying these rituals, Greenfield's works always question if too much importance has been put on looking good and fitting in, and the subjects of the photographs grow more serious as one moves farther into the exhibit. The vivid, often emotionally raw statements from many of her subjects compliment the photographs and often reveal another side to the pictured girls. These are the stories that rarely make the cover pages of a newspaper or magazine, but they are real and present in the lives of young women everywhere. The darker sides of culture and peer pressure today are often hidden away or ignored, but Greenfield shows absolutely no hesitation in bringing avoided issues to the forefront. Her photographs show teenage mothers and a 24-year-old anorexic, made so anxious by the thought of weight gain that she has to stand backwards on the scale. It is also hinted that this cycle, as condemnable as it is, is self-perpetuating. A statement from a young girl that appears at the beginning of the exhibit, talks about how she wants to become a topless dancer when she grows up. Later, 24-year-old Leilani describes how she was forced to choose between working as a topless dancer to put herself through college and her place on the school's track team after her coaches found out and disapproved. These issues are not easily confronted, but Greenfield's simple, freeze-frame style captures many of her subjects in their most real moments. Her effort to photograph girls as they really are provides an accurate look into the culture of girls and young woman. If Greenfield's work questions the state of young girls today, then the second new exhibit in the Aidekman gallery celebrates and challenges how we perceive the women that these girls will one day become. Artist Lauren Greenberg speaks tonight in the Cohen Auditorium at 7 p.m.


The Setonian
Arts

Art for Math-lovers

Walking into Gallery NAGA, coolly removing the Beatnik shades and preparing to play art critic for the day, there's a disconcerting surprise. The moving holographic images on the walls portray lifelike images: a man kneeling down closely observing the room, and a family of three smiling in greeting. At first, this voyeurism is unnerving. But as the realistic eyes of these holographic portraits invite examination, they also welcome viewer engagement. These are the exhibited holographs of Harriet Casdin-Silver, one of a dual-artist exhibition at the NAGA Gallery on Newbury Street this month. The two types of work featured in the exhibit are unconventional and unique. Casdin-Silver is an 80-year-old master artist, and co-exhibitionist Reese Inman makes her gallery debut. Though both artists are at very different, if not opposite, stages in their artistic lives, they both incorporate the conventional arts as well as the use - and even the abuse - of technology. Casdin-Silver is recognized worldwide for her innovative use of holography, and the exhibit also includes some of her more recent photography prints. She has bravely expanded the boundaries of holographic art by portraying images that convey a sense of sincerity and compassion. A particularly touching hologram image of a couple sitting together captures the precise moment when the man lays his head on the woman's shoulder. Since the only times one ever really sees holograms are on credit cards and such, viewers will be astounded by how moving Casdin-Silver's illusions can be. After looking at Silver's "Holographic Portraits and Other Work" exhibit, viewers move beyond a wide column that almost divides the gallery in half and arrive among walls covered by the work of Reese Inman, whose underlying messages aren't so easily grasped as Casdin-Silver's. By combining her background as a computer programmer, designer, and artist, Inman creates the "Algorithm Map Series." This series consists of a number of square panels with an array of multi-colored dots arranged in algebraically significant patterns. It is a wondrous blending of mathematics and art and is a powerful message of the "technology overload" in our modern society. On the surface, Reese's work is a bunch of painted dots, but her work is much deeper than that - almost esoteric. Granted, many may characterize art in general as an obscure field, but even an ardent lover of the arts could struggle to understand the meaning behind Inman's work. A quick trip to the curator's information booth provides a guide to Inman's seemingly random dots. Upon closer inspection, there is a rhythmic flow to each painting, created by individual software that allowed Inman to create a unique algorithmic pattern. More people than mathematicians can appreciate that. With a little research, it's easy to have respect for Inman's challenging and risky nature. Overall, the exhibit was probably not the most riveting gallery experience, mostly due to the minimal selection displayed for both artists. Although it is understandable given the size of the gallery and exhibit, the small collections don't allow viewers enough time to immerse themselves in the artists' work. Despite this, however, Gallery NAGA is undoubtedly enjoyable and thought-provoking.


The Setonian
Arts

Artists emerge from behind the canvas at ICA

With the advent of visual media in the last century many artists have emerged from behind the canvas to become public figures, even icons, in their own right. The new exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art(ICA), "Likeness: Portraits of Artists by Other Artists," explores this phenomenon, creating a role reversal in which the artist is the subject. Composed by admirers, friends and peers of the artists, the gallery walls hold the countenances of familiar figures like Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, David Hockney and Chuck Close, as well as those of less well known faces. Each work plays off of the collaboration between the two artists and, through medium and content, seeks to deliver its own message about art and self. Deborah Kass's 1994 collaboration with Cindy Sherman provides what is perhaps the most complex and intriguing portrait of the show. On a large silkscreen ink and acrylic diptych inspired by 1960's pop art, Sherman's face stares back at you under the guise of Liza Minelli. Famous for her self-portraits, in which she arranges herself into different characters, Sherman comments on society's stereotypes and preconceptions. Her portrait, though initially startling, asks the viewer to question the idea of celebrity. Andy Warhol, the man who called himself a "superstar" and his studio a"factory," sits in the same room in a piece by Richard Misrach. The portrait, a bullet-hole riddled photograph of Warhol in a Vidal Sassoon ad, interestingly references both Warhol's actual shooting and the irony of his position as a pop-culture icon. As one might expect, the attempted collaboration of two artists in the production of a single work can be difficult. Three primary options are available to the artists: they can choose to collaborate equally, be truly loyal to the subject's style, or rely on the vision of the artist. The artist has to decide what style, medium, and format will most appropriately reflect his peer and will produce his desired statement. Portraiture and viewer interest in images of human beings have existedfor millennia, in every imaginable form. From honest and intimate, to deceiving and propagandistic, according to the individual goals of the creator, they are windows into the consciousness of both the painter and the painted. In the ICA, one will find media ranging from photography to watercolor, with executions even more far reaching. As you might expect, most of the pieces in the show put a twist on the idea of the traditional portrait. For example, Heather Cantrell's photo of well-known feminist Mary Kelly shows her seductively lounging by a pool, showing how even photographs can mask reality. David Robbins, on the other hand, decides to use a basic approach to hissubjects in "Talent" (1986). Lined along the wall are head shots of variousartists, mimicking those in actors' portfolios. "Contemporary art," he observes, "is kind of intellectual show business." He reminds us that artists can be both intellectual commentators and publicly recognized figures. Not only does "Likeness" have a great collection of work by noteworthy artists, but it also makes you think about the core ideas behind them, showcasing the many paths artists have taken over time to answer questions about their purpose, their place in society, and the degree to which their work should be associated with their identity.



The Setonian
Arts

'Kill Bill' meets the MFA in new exhibit

It turns out that Kill Bill's Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are not the only ones educated in the way of the warrior. Since the rise of the warrior class in twelfth-century Japan, samurai were fascinated by the sport of falconry, the training of hawks and falcons to kill smaller animals for them. But Japanese interest in the falcon did not stop there. These birds of prey developed into a much larger symbol within society. Artwork that explores the falcon's relevance to Japanese society is now on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, in an exhibition entitled "Pursuits of Power: Falconry and the Samurai, 1600 - 1900." With the appointment of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603 came the Edo (Tokyo) period of Japanese history. This period marked, among other things, progress in economic development, urbanization, foreign trade and stability. And it is due to this time of relative peace that the samurai educated themselves not only in martial arts, but in literature and the arts, and began commissioning and collecting artwork themselves. In this artwork, the falcon and hawk came to represent the authority and power held by the Samurai. On the museum wall hangs a series of large flat wooden panels covered with cloth, which are decorated with ink drawn scenes. When viewed in order, these panels make up a hunting tale. The narrative style of story-telling is used often in the artwork of this period, and is effective in portraying the partnership established between the warrior and falcon, a physical and mental balancing of power that the samurai came to be known for. Edo was the center of all art and commerce during these years. In order to foster growth in Edo, provincial rulers were required to spend every other year there, and brought artwork back to their respective provinces. Visitors can view popular prints called Surimono, which were privately commissioned during this period. These prints celebrate the intellectual power that flourished with Japan's developments. They contain images and scenes, typically of falcons or hawks in nature, which are accompanied by literary references and puns that have some correlation to the image. Unfortunately the museum does not offer translations, and a working knowledge of Japanese characters is necessary to interpret them. Other birds appear in the artwork of this period as well, and are presented in the exhibit as a symbol of change. Birds depicting a panoramic scene on an elaborate hand scroll situated in the center of the room reflect the different seasons in which the warriors hunted. For example, the presence of chicks would mark spring or early summer, as this was the time they were taken from the wild for use in falconry. Temporal change is not all that is mirrored, however. The exhibition draws a parallel between the falcon's evolution into a symbol of authority in Japanese artwork, and the shift of the government from a physical power to a political one. As the political economy developed, so did the art and culture. Two 6-panel folding screens, used to divide rooms during social events, stand side by side in a glass case, on each panel the image of a different bird of prey. Owned by a warrior, the screens showcased the number of birds he had obtained and trained and were symbols of his status. When falcons could not be afforded, such panels as these would be an admissible backup. And like every glory-signifying symbol in society, falcons and hawks became popular emblems on clothing and accessories (see Woody Allen's "Picking Up the Pieces"). Silk embroidered hawks decorate robes called uchikake, typically worn by warriors' wives. Jewelry and figurines are also on display. This exhibition is a great example of how the tracing of one object or symbol can uncover much larger trends in society. The political shifts in Japan during the Edo period and the relationship that existed between art and society at the time are well represented by the falcons presence in Japanese artwork.


The Setonian
Arts

Try to limit yourself to just a little LAMB

On her new album "Love, Angel, Music, Baby" (LAMB), Gwen Stefani rocks like it's 1989. Stefani is a child of the '80s, and through her solo debut the rock princess tries to revive the decade mocked for its materialism, bad clothes, and worse music.



The Setonian
Arts

Artwork that truly captures the eye

Holiday displays have already begun to light up around the country, but lighting exhibits of a different sort are currently being featured at two museums in the Boston area. The work of Cerith Wyn Evans, a Welsh installation artist, is being featured this winter in dual exhibitions at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the MIT List Visual Arts Center.


The Setonian
Arts

Postcards from the Edge: 'Envoys of War'

Though war is something that few of us have ever experienced outside of action movies and media coverage, students can come face to face with the horrors of war at the opening of the Tufts Gallery's newest exhibit. "Envoys of War: Images by Group VII Photojournalists" showcases the work of five photographers: James Nachtwey, Ron Haviv, John Stanmeyer, Christopher Morris, and Alexandra Boulat. The opening reception tonight will begin tonight at 6 p.m. with a lecture by photographer Peter Howe and Fletcher School Professor Hurst Hannum. "Envoys of War" tries to put a human face on conflicts that are often dehumanized by the media. War, the exhibit tells us, is not a distant force which cannot affect us, but is incomprehensibly overpowering and personal, destroying individuals even as it breaks down and reforms nations. The five photographers whose work is on display are clearly no strangers to war. Their pictures come from Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq, following deadly conflicts around the world and making the human impact of war more accessible to those still on the home front. All five are founding members of VII, a photojournalist agency that was started in 2001 in order to independently document conflict and injustice in the first years of the 21st century. The "VII" in the group's title refers to the seven photojournalists originally involved in the organization; they have since been joined by two more. VII announced its formation on Sept. 9, 2001, two days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks struck New York City. Two days later, James Nachtwey took VII's first photographs of war when the World Trade Center was attacked, only blocks from his Manhattan apartment. Nachtwey's work is poignant and ethereal. He captured the World Trade Center collapsing with an enormous cloud, the foreground framed by the cross of a church a few blocks away. In another photograph, firemen stride over the wreckage in New York City, their forms barely visible through the dust clouding the sky. Following the attacks, Nachtwey went to Afghanistan and Iraq as a photojournalist. His work in late 2001 documents a critically wounded Taliban soldier, left gushing blood by the side of the road as forces loyal to Americans walked by to watch him die. A photograph from Iraq in 2003 shows a man pushing a gigantic head of Saddam Hussein down the streets of Baghdad in a homemade cart, stolen from a statue that was toppled by invading American forces. Ron Haviv has documented conflicts all around the world; his work on display dates back to the civil war in Yugoslavia in 1991. His haunting images capture Bosnians ducking out of the way of sniper fire, interrupted from a peace rally in Sarajevo, and the bare remains of a Kosavar Albanian who was burned by Serbian forces in 1999, his body nothing more than a white outline against the sterile ground. All of the conflicts documented in the exhibit have made the news in their day, but the images captured by the photographers communicate far more than words without pictures ever could. John Stanmeyer, working in Indonesia and East Timor in 1998, memorialized the struggle there, photographing a single protestor as he stood alone against a mass of riot police. Christopher Morris's work in Chechnya forces a human quality on the soldiers there, capturing them in faux Gucci sweaters and "England" t-shirts as they wait by the side of the road with their weapons. In 2003, Alexandra Boulat traveled to Iraq in order to photograph the upcoming war. Though her work mostly centers on landscapes and inanimate objects - a Baghdad sky dark with oil smoke and candles sent by peace protesters down the Tigris River - the actions of individuals just off screen bring a haunting human face to the conflict. Aside from the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, in the modern era, a foreign war has never been brought to American soil. As a result, those of us who live thousands of miles away from deadly conflicts have a hard time imagining what it must be like for the individuals who must live entirely mired in them. "Envoys of War" documents the faces of individuals who have suffered in conflicts around the world, but it also functions as a physical embodiment of its title. The photographers whose work is on display are quite literally the envoys of war, the messengers who seek to communicate just what it is like to live in a world where death is not a distant figure lurking on the horizon, but rather is solid and present. The exhibit is being hosted in honor of the 20th anniversary of EPIIC, a program within the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership. Though few will ever see deadly conflict take such a personal role in their lives, putting a human face on its results may help to better understand what sort of impact war can cause. With such haunting, poignant images as its messenger, the effect is not something that visitors to "Envoys of War" will easily forget.


The Setonian
Arts

Exhibit focuses on 'religious serenity'

Religion and art are often intertwined. It's difficult to imagine the great churches and synagogues of Europe without picturing the beautiful paintings housed within them. "Michelangelo's Ceiling" painted on the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel is world renown. Many great pieces of the past reflect the divinity that inspired them.