How can novel visual practices disrupt traditional narratives of spatial representation? In what unique ways do artists in time-based media acknowledge and respond to the historical contribution of their medium in defining, producing, and perpetuating these same narratives? What new connections do these practices demonstrate and reveal? And, in what ways do contemporary technologies, modes of distribution, and access impact interactions with the land?
These are some of the questions posed during the symposium Zones of Representation: Photographing Contested Landscapes, which considered how photographers and time-based media artists have responded to transformations in the global landscape through new ideas about the function of photographic media, and the shifting roles of makers and audiences. The event was organized by History of Art alumni Kathy Zarur and Bridget Gilman, along with Makaeda Best, and took place in April at SF Camerawork.
The organizers' aim, Zarur and Gilman explained, was to gather a diverse group of perspectives on the representation of geographic conflict. To that end, the symposium and accompanying exhibition featured ten artists and four speakers. The exhibition included a variety of photographic media, from traditional processes like cyanotypes to the contemporary innovations of drone recordings. The speakers’ topics ranged from nineteenth-century American imperialism to current battles over immigration.
Zones of Representation has the potential to expand and grow, Zarur said, which was evidenced in the connections made among participating artists and scholars. At the upcoming CAA conference, Zarur and Gilman will co-chair a panel and present papers alongside Makeda Best and Omar Mismar. They are also thinking about other related curatorial projects.
The symposium and pop up exhibition was organized by Makeda Best (California College of the Arts), Bridget Gilman (San Diego State University), and Kathy Zarur (California College of the Arts & San Francisco State University). It was presented in collaboration with SF Camerawork and was co-sponsored by the Northern California Art Historians, a College Art Association affiliated society.