Arresting Developments

June 12, 2009

Today the Visual Arts Gallery unveils the MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department’s annual thesis exhibition. Curated by faculty member Bonnie Yochelson, the show brings together works from 21 students, and will include work that ranges from color photographic prints and short video subjects to a large-scale sculptural piece and a candle-strewn shrine; in addition, there will be a screening of video works on Wednesday, June 17, 7 – 10pm, at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street.

Yochelson took a few minutes while installing the exhibition to speak to the Briefs about the show:

What are the criteria you apply to the work you choose?
The students are usually too close to the material while working on it during the school year. I encourage them to get back to basics. Someone is going to come to the show from the public, so you have to make sure you’re clear with your intentions and you don’t bore them. They come to me with their artist statements and I say, ‘Let’s talk about what this work is about in one sentence.’ This is the last step. It’s time to engage the general public.

Is it a challenge to mix photography and video media into a single show?
Yes. The video pieces here are short, nothing is longer than five minutes. I tell students they have to assume people aren’t going to give it more than one minute, and that has to be OK. If it’s too narrative, it shouldn’t be here. It’s a group show, and they have to learn what they can expect from a viewer. For the videos we have included, I try to install them with a bench, so the viewer actually might watch for the full five minutes and become arrested by the piece.

The MFA Photography, Video and Related Media thesis exhibition is on view at the Visual Arts Gallery, 601 West 26th Street, 15th floor, through June 27; there will be an opening reception for the artists on Tuesday, June 16, 6 – 8pm.

Images: (top) Vanessa Bahmani, SheaRok & Bounce, 2009; (bottom) David Todd, Nikon SLR_0131_adj, 2009.

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