24 October, 2001, Santa Monica -- In response to the World Trade Center tragedy and the
unprecedented flood of images that have resulted from it, a unique exhibition, Here Is New York,
was created in a storefront in SoHo. The exhibition will now travel to Track 16 Gallery, where
it will be augmented by images from Los Angeles residents.
Here Is New York is not a conventional gallery show. It is something new, a show tailored to the nature of the event and to the response it has elicited. The exhibition is subtitled "A Democracy of Photographs" because anyone and everyone who took pictures relating to the tragedy were invited to bring or email their images to the gallery, where they were digitally scanned, archivally printed, and displayed on the walls alongside the work of top photo-jour-nalists and other professional photo-graphers. All of the prints displayed in Here Is New York are available for purchase at the same fixed, nominal price, regardless of their provenance. The net proceeds will go to the Children's Aid Society WTC Relief Fund for the benefit of the thousands of children who are among the greatest victims of this catastrophe.
The causes and effects of the events of September 11 are by no means clear. What is clear, though, is this: in order to restore our sense of equilibrium as a nation, as a city, and particularly as a community of individuals, we need to develop a new way of looking at and thinking about what has happened, as well as a way of making sense of all the images that have besieged us.
The organizers of the exhibition are Gilles Peress, a photo-grapher for The New Yorker;
Alice Rose George, a curator and editor; Charles Traub, a photo-grapher and chairman of
the MFA Program in the Photography Department of the School of Visual Arts, working with
SVA's staff and students; and Michael Shulan.
When two bulls fight, the leg of the calf is broken is an installation by Fazal Sheikh, an artist who was born in New York City and has roots in the Afghan borderlands. This piece, together with the accompanying publication, reminds us of the human cost of aggression, in all its forms. Fazal Sheikh's family thread has drawn him across three continents, back to the places where his father's family and his grandfather's family lived long before he was born. In the attempt to uncover his own family history, he has been thrust into the lives and contemporary conflicts of people in Kabul. When two bulls fight, the leg of the calf is broken resonates with the plight of the people who live in his grandfather's land as it reveals their daily existence in the Taliban-held city where a regime of fear is now maintained in the name of Islam.
The horrible events of September 11 have focused world attention on Afghanistan, a country that has been dealing with immense social, political, and economic strife for decades. The photographs in the exhibition A View with a Grain of Sand are images of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan's (RAWA) projects and photographs documenting the lives of Afghan refugees. Steve Penners, president of the Afghan Women's Mission, and Meena Nanji are among the artists featured in this exhibition. For Afghan citizens, living in constant fear has been a situation endured not for a matter of weeks, but for decades. Until a few years ago, RAWA administered the Malalai Hospital in Quetta, Pakistan. The hospital, one of the finest in the region, treated up to four hundred people a day, including landmine victims. Due to lack of funds, the hospital has been forced to shut down. The current war has only worsened conditions in Afghanistan, paving the way for a humanitarian disaster. The photographs taken by Steve Penners will be for sale for a nominal fee to benefit RAWA and the rebuilding of the Malalai Hospital.
Overflowing is intended to give voice to three contemporary Islamic artists, Lida Abdullah, Gita Khashabi, and Amitis Motevalli, who share their visions of Western culture. At a time when people, traditions, and images of Central Asia are being closely scrutinized and examined, it is essential to understand the image that Western societies traditionally have had of this part of the world and its citizens. All three artists are independent and rebellious as they seek to combat political misconceptions and Western-imposed stereotypes, although they do share commonalties in artistic perspective and aesthetic sensibilities.
Born in Afghanistan, Lida Abdullah works with appropriated images of Middle Eastern Islam in Western art history and critical theory. Through film, video, and performance she confronts the idea of "otherness" and the discounting of non-European history within the dialogue of contemporary art. Having lived both "beneath the veil" in the Islamic Republic of Iran and without the veil in Europe and the U.S., Gita Khashabi reflects on similarities in both lifestyles. "Topless if I wish to, faceless if I have to," she affirms her independence of thought and actions, clarifying choices and their repercussions. Amitis Motevalli left Iran in 1977 before the revolution. In Amitis's work, she uses a metaphorical mirror to present an American equivalent to each critique of the East. Islamic design and pattern painted over Western icons act as a form of subversion as she reminds Americans of the human injustices that are carried out within its own borders.
On November 14 at 7 P.M., Track 16 Gallery will host a fund-raising event for RAWA and the reopening of Malalai Hospital. It will be an evening of art and information featuring a RAWA member, as well as poetry and music. We are suggesting a $100 donation at the door, but everyone is welcome, and we will gladly accept any donations at the door.
Find out more: www.hereisnewyork.org