All photographs are a record of what the photographer trained his or her lens on at a given moment, but not all photographs are meant to depict reality. MOCA’s new exhibit Unverified examines this.
Featuring the works of collaborative artist team Kahn and Selesnick, Robert and Shana Parke Harrison, Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger, Lori Nix, Jennifer B. Thoreson, and Thomas Jackson, Unverified is an exhibition of staged scenes and alternate realities that disrupt the narrative that a photograph is merely an objective record.
An opening reception is held from 6-8pm January 11th in the UNF Gallery of MOCA Jacksonville. The event is free and open to the public. Unverified will be on display through March 25th.
“The primary connective thread for the artists in the Unverified exhibition is that they create staged or fabricated imagery that provokes thought and creates a fanciful story through carefully arranged scenes,” says exhibit curator Kally Malcom. “While all of the included artworks are harmonious within the gallery, each artist or artist pair has a unique manner of working.”
Malcom, who also serves as the Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of North Florida, cites as an example works by Lori Nix, who “creates and photographs these intricate, dystopian dioramas of familiar places after a disaster.” Her image “The Library” depicts a once-opulent reading room now overtaken by trees and natural elements. Void of people, but populated with the abandoned stuff of humans, the viewer can imagine a great disaster or exodus that brought ruin to this once-beautiful place.
“Typically, an objective photographic record would be an image made to mark a moment or event as it is happening. An objective image would be a photojournalistic image, or a crime-scene photograph. The goals of these images are to provide proof and make a visual record,” she says. “However, not all images are truthful and objective, and this exhibition celebrates image-makers that essentially create fictions in front of their cameras.”
The works of Kahn and Selesnik take the viewer to a whole other world with their incredible panorama images from their series, Apollo Prophecies. Their images depict a team of celestial explorers outfitted in early twentieth-century attire who seem to be engaged in scientific research while touring far flung planets.
Malcom says the exhibiting photographers were all chosen based on the beautifully staged scenes and alternate realities they create with their images, each fulfilling the criterion differently. “When curating the exhibition, we wanted smart, soulful work that we believe will delight visitors who come to MOCA Jacksonville as much as they delight us,” she says. “The result of this project is an exhibition [which] offers entry points into intriguing alternative worlds.”