Human Rights is a topic that stirs strong emotions. Four exhibitions that address human rights opened at the Ryerson Image Centre this past week.
Featuring 316 original prints from the prestigious Black Star Collection at Ryerson University, the exhibition HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN WRONGS uses the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a point of departure to examine whether images of political struggle, suffering and victims of violence work for or against humanitarian objectives, especially when considering questions of race, representation, ethical responsibility and the cultural position of the photographer.
Curated by Mark Sealy, Director of Autograph ABP in London, England, HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN WRONGS begins circa 1945 and includes historic Civil Rights Movements events such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The exhibition also features images of the independence movements in African countries and images of protests and war around the world. The exhibition will be on view in the Ryerson Image Centre Main Gallery until Sunday, April 14. Viewer discretion and parental guidance are advised.
Alfredo Jaar: The Politics of Images, curated by Gaëlle Morel, exhibitions curator at the RIC; addresses political concerns and the relationship between ethics and aesthetics. Jaar, a Chilean-born, New York-based artist, highlights ignored contemporary tragedies such as genocides, epidemics and famines to promote cultural change. The exhibit will be on view until April 14.
The issue of fame is explored in Clive Holden: UNAMERICAN UNFAMOUS. Drawing from the Black Star Collection, Holden used the “un-famous” as an organizing principle in his selection of 100 image details and faces to feature in his exhibit. Plucked from obscurity, these people can be found in the backgrounds of famous photographs or hidden in the depths of a photographic archive.
The work’s media tile construction is made with a hybrid adaptation of photographic, cinematic and web tools. It also uses film leader as raw material (the beginning and end pieces of film reels). With a complex series of randomizing algorithms, these film loops are juxtaposed and continually remixed with the “unsung human leaders” found in the Black Star Collection, as well as the photographs of local non-famous “un-Americans” nominated by members of the public. The work will evolve over the course of the exhibition as community-nominated images are added. People are invited to nominate a photograph of someone who is both un-American and unjustly un-famous for inclusion in the exhibition. For more details, visit www.unamericanunfamous.com. Clive Holden: UNAMERICAN UNFAMOUS is curated by Gaëlle Moreal and will be on view at the Ryerson Image Centre’s Salah J. Bachir New Media Wall until April 14.
Captive State is an exhibition of photographs taken by Dominic Nahr, a TIME magazine contract photographer and graduate of Ryerson; during two trips to Mogadishu to document the famine in Southern Somalia. The exhibition will be on view at the Ryerson Image Centre’s Student Gallery until Sunday, March 10.
To complement public gallery exhibitions, the Ryerson Image Centre presents tours, panel discussions, curator talks and other events. One of these events is a lecture by HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN WRONGS curator, Mark Sealy, entitled “The Organ that Weeps. Photography and Violence.”
Sealy argues that the early use of photography by those who adhered to European ideologies of the mid-19th century helped establish a hierarchal world-view that created the conditions for photographic practices that normalized the violent and debasing treatment of those who were seen as inferior and outside of Western history. The lecture takes place today, Thursday, January 24 at 7 p.m. at Ryerson University.
Ryerson Image Centre is located at 33 Gould Street (one block northeast of Yonge and Dundas).
For more information, visit www.ryerson.ca/ric or call 416-979-5164.