ARTIFACTUAL realities takes society into account not simply as a reflection of the global community but also as an action site, that is, as an artifact of communal exchange. It is dedicated to the work of 11 artists/photographers who, each in their own way, are concerned, as we are, with issues of revolution, spirituality and memory.
August Bradley’s photographic series 99 Faces of Occupy Wall Street reveals the non-hierarchical perspective of Occupy Wall Street through dynamic portraits. Bradley’s images put a “face on a faceless movement,” which is still undefined, and is comprised of both activists and members of the public who are fed up with the economic inequality and corruption of the United States. Bradley currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
These outcries of change are visible through Vanessa Bahmani’s portrait series We are the 99%. Bahmani’s depiction of men and women, veterans, families, children, and even Wall Street employees contrast the negative media perception of protesters through profoundly personal hand-written signs. Bahmani lives in New York City.
Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr.'s protest photographs were taken in Moscow, Russia at a demonstration in Bolotnaya Square. The demonstrators demand a voice for ethnic Russians in the country’s politics and are marking the first anniversary of a violent nationalist riot just outside the Kremlin. Zemlianichenko Jr. lives in Moscow, Russia.
The work Semites: A Wall Under Construction is a reflection on Charif Benhelima’s own background. Benhelima overexposed the photographs, creating an aesthetic of invisibility or disappearance that evokes the notion of memory/oblivion both of our cultural history and the artist’s own background. Benhelima lives in Antwerp, Belgium.
Mel Chin’s The Funk and Wag From A to Z uses images cut from a complete set of the 1953 edition of The Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia which he recomposes as narratives and scenes saturated with messages that have social, political, and historical implications. Resembling the Dada technique of photomontage, Chin uses the volumes’ photogravure illustrations to deliver a disorienting time lapse in the space between historical and contemporary experience. Chin lives in Burnsville, North Carolina.
Celia Alvarez Muñoz’s Semejante Personajes / Significant Personalities is a richly textured, digitally enhanced, sequence of photographs of artists at work in the studio. Her work expresses her passion for the creative process, for history and experimentation, and for the proud and striking Chicanos whose paths have mirrored her own. Muñoz lives in Arlington, Texas.
Ann Harithas establishes a context for discarded materials using non-traditional modernist techniques. In a commodity-driven society the political, economic, and social problem of dumping, storing or finding new uses for the vast quantity of used, obsolete or discarded objects and materials is a major challenge. For Harithas, internalizing this challenge is fundamental to her own artistic process. She is engaged in an intimate quest for social truth while participating in the social act of recycling through collage. Harithas lives in Houston, Texas.
In his photographic series I Am Joseph, Nazar Yahya is able to distill the form and emotion of a tragic era and profoundly express personal religious truths by paralleling the biblical story of Joseph’s exile in the desert with the cruel Iraqi exodus. Yahya lives in Houston, Texas.
Linarejos Moreno shifts between the boundaries of figuration and ritual as she explores the fragility of human beings and the aging industrialized culture through installation and photography. Moreno lives in Houston, Texas.
Ernesto Leon is a noted painter from Venezuela now living in Houston where he has developed a body of work in activist videos. His video portraits of artists have become legendary. Along with his extensive work in radio, his art is a response to corporate media and to those who lie to inform us. This selection of interviews of the participants in the Occupy Houston movement provides Fotofest with direct information about a significant historical event in the life of this city that is little known to the public.
Joe Cardella’s Buddhist shrine is a spiritual icon and an expression of the artist’s belief in humanity. On another level, the shrine expresses the social convergence of spirituality and basic food products. Over the years, Cardella has worked tirelessly to support the visions of artists who have maintained their integrity and have stood up against the cultural imperialism of the official art world of the United States. His publication Artlife 1981-2006 is the longest continually published Artists’ periodical of the twentieth Century. Cardella lives in Ventura, California, where he participated in the Occupy Ventura movement.