Wherever we are in the world, we take up space. However, the meaning of each space depends upon what we as occupants and observers bring to it. In documenting place, artists interpret and convey the nuances of space—familiar or foreign, public or private. Beyond the collective, moments of introspection can be crucial to the anatomy of a space. In Aboard le Mistral, Charles Harbutt captured a young woman’s quiet moment of reflection on a train in France, while maintaining a physical and emotional distance from her. In comparison, inIndia Leon Levinstein documented the dynamic between the crowd and the individual. As artists travel and record their experiences abroad, their work is shaped by their inherent distance from foreign lands. In Tea Fields, Rachel Davis blended her connections to China with her Western background to present her own vision of a foreign milieu. Through representations of subjects ranging from natural landscapes to social interactions, traveling artists interpret what they see through the lens of their experiences.
Travel has also allowed humans throughout history to both identify with and connect to environments that transcend physical reality. Carroll Dunham’s Places and Thingsdemonstrates how space is manipulated and perceived by its beholder; his abstraction of the mind represents the fantastical perspectives with which some artists view the world. Whether wholly imaginary or grounded in realism, our perspectives are informed by the lenses of time, memory, and experience, through which we extract meaning from our surroundings. In Bush, David Armstrong manipulated focus to capture the essence of his surroundings, rather than the physical characteristics of space. Armstrong’s reinterpretation of the landscape evokes a romantic, wistful sense of nostalgia. Time is also distorted and reimagined in James Craig Annan’s The Riva Schiavoni; through a long exposure, he created an intriguing visual event in a single frame that captured various stills of people over time, disintegrating form to the point of abstraction. Annan’s photograph echoes the way we recall memories—retrieving mental images that have become blurred and reconfigured by the distance of time.
This exhibition is curated by the students in the spring 2016 Phillips Academy course Visual Culture: Discovering the Addison Collection.
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