LA Times Reviews "Dream of a House: The Passions and Preoccupations of Reynolds Price"

Read below the great review in the LA Times of Dream of a House: The Passions and Preoccupations of Reynolds Price. The book is edited by Alex Harris and Margaret Sartor, with photographs by Alex Harris.

Photographs from the book are currently on exhibit at Duke University's Rubenstein Library. The book is published by George F. Thompson Publishing and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and distributed by the University of North Carolina Press.


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"Dream of a House Tours the Eclectic Home of Writer Reynolds Price"
By Agatha French, LA Times, September 13, 2017

"Without a person in the frame," writes photographer Alex Harris in the book Dream of a House: The Passions and Preoccupations of Reynolds Price, “we try to make sense of the mystery of a place or the accumulations of a lifetime.”

After author and scholar Price died in 2011, Harris, a dear friend, set out to document the celebrated Southern writer’s eccentric and art-filled home. Harris’ photographs appear alongside excerpts from Price’s work — novels, memoirs, plays and collections of poetry and essays that he wrote throughout his lifetime. Taken together, the photographs become a kind of portrait in absentia; in conversation with Price’s own words, the book is a surprisingly intimate glimpse into the private, domestic world of one writer’s life.

What can things — furniture, everyday objects, art — really tell us about someone? If this book is any indication, plenty. What Price chose to surround himself with tells us about his obsessions, his affections, and perhaps even his perception of himself.

The sheer number of decorative elements documented in Price’s home — framed paintings, first edition books, sculptures, photographs, icons — feels novelistic. In a way, the question of what objects can reveal about a person is the territory of writers, who choose details to illuminate their character’s inner life — the “show, don’t tell” maxim familiar to many. And, like a writer constructing a scene, Price placed works “precisely where they would resonate with other pieces,” writes Harris, “where he wanted them to live.”

In an interview excerpted in the book, Price said that he surrounded himself with “images of what I have loved and love and worship — worship in the sense of offering my life and work to them.” For this writer, on every wall, inspiration.

Price taught for more than five decades at Duke University (“Dream of a House” is published by George F. Thompson Publishing in association with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University,) and was a Rhodes scholar and a winner of the 1986 National Book Critics Circle award in fiction for his novel “Kate Vaiden.” He titled, fittingly for an art collector, his first of four memoirs “Clear Pictures.”

In Harris’ photograph of Price’s writing desk there is also the story of a man who was paralyzed after the removal of a tumor in his spine. “Though his collections had begun long before,” writes Harris, “when Reynolds became a relative shut-in after he was confined to a wheel chair in 1984, his rooms gradually filled floor to ceiling with his passions and preoccupations.”

Marble busts, ceramic angels, Christian and queer iconography — Price’s home is eclectic, maximalist and lovely. It is also, despite his absence, touchingly lived-in. The placement of a favorite pair of salt and pepper shakers on a windowsill, just so; the stack of books on a table, or a painting propped up against a wall — his home was unique, but also familiar in its idiosyncrasies and imperfections. In a particularly compelling detail shot, a crucifix shares mug-space with toothbrushes and clippers, a thimble and thread with other detritus of day-to-day life.

“Dream of a House” pays tribute to Price; it also awakens the observer to one of Price’s own observations.

“Far more things that we guess in the world are worthy of our notice,” he wrote. “They silently require our concentration, our slow comprehension, or at least our awe.”


 

Christopher Sims's "Theater of War" Featured by Oxford American

The Oxford American is currently featuring Christopher Sims's project Theater of War: The Pretend Villages of Iraq and Afghanistan as part of its The By and By series. See the original article on the Oxford American's website. Sims was named as one of the 100 "new superstars of Southern Art" by the Oxford American in 2012.


Jihad Lamp, Fort Polk, Louisiana.

Jihad Lamp, Fort Polk, Louisiana.


A Dispatch from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University

Since 2001, Chris Sims, my longtime friend and colleague at the Center for Documentary Studies, has been engaged in investigating, with a profound and insistent curiosity, American military ventures from the perspective of the home front. He photographed inside an army uniform factory and followed an army recruiter for a year—a project that led to Hearts and Minds, his ongoing series about nationwide recruitment events—before embarking on his ten-year-long project on the “pretend” Iraqi and Afghan villages pictured in Theater of War. These villages, built on the training grounds of U.S. Army bases, are situated in the deep forests of North Carolina and Louisiana, and in a vast expanse of desert near Death Valley in California. Each base features clusters of villages spread out over thousands of acres, in a pretend country known by a different name at each base: Talatha, Braggistan, or “Iraq.”

Chris’s interest in documenting the home front is grounded in his experiences working as a photo archivist at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. (and by his many years at CDS, as a student, lecturer, and now, director of undergraduate education). So many photographs that artists, historians, scholars, and survivors hoped to find from World War II just didn’t exist. Photographs “were not saved or did not survive the war, or perhaps more often, were not made in the first place,” Chris writes. “My intent with Theater of Warwas to build a documentary record of images that would fill this type of gap in a future archive of war.”

We’re very proud to announce that Chris has received a 2017 Graham Foundation Publication Grant to support a book of photographs. A CDS Book of Theater of War: The Pretend Villages of Iraq and Afghanistan will be published in 2019.

These surreal, often disarmingly humorous, villages—peopled by paid actors—serve as a strange and poignant way station for people heading off to war, and for those who have fled it. U.S. soldiers interact with pretend villagers who are often recent immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan, who have now found work in America playing a version of the lives they left behind. The remainder of the village population is drawn from the local communities near the army bases, including spouses of active-duty soldiers as well as military veterans of America’s wars in Vietnam and Korea.

Sometimes Chris is a role player himself. As he describes it, “Sometimes I visit the villages with access provided by the military’s public affairs office; other times I am . . . playing the character of a war photographer for the ‘International News Network.’ Here, backstage in the war on terrorism, I see insurgents planting a bomb in a Red Crescent ambulance; American soldiers negotiating with a reluctant mayor; a suicide bomber detonating herself outside of a mosque; and villagers erupting in an anti-American riot. The designers and inhabitants of these worlds take great pride in the scope and fidelity of their wars-in-miniature.”

We at CDS are so pleased to share a few images from Theater of War as our latest contribution to The By and By. Chris finds so many ways to re-create the experience of being in these strange lands that the images seem more like encounters than portraits. Like the creators of Braggistan or Talatha or “Iraq,” he has carefully constructed a village of sorts for contemporary viewers, and for future audiences—a vivid visual history. That he is both an original and precise photographer makes his stagecraft about stagecraft that much more intriguing and persuasive. Truth is stranger than fiction.

—Alexa Dilworth, CDS Publishing and Awards Director

 

 

 

Alex Harris Exhibition "Near and Far" Opens September 30 at Craven Allen Gallery in Durham

Alex Harris: Near and Far

presented by Craven Allen Gallery and Ann Stewart Fine Art

Opening Reception
Saturday, September 30, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

Exhibition runs September 30–November 4
1106 1/2 Broad Street
Durham, NC 27705

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STATEMENT
My childhood home in Georgia, though privileged and suburban, was oddly ephemeral. My family had gone through several divorces and all the neighborhood families I knew either split up or moved away. I think now that is why I was so drawn to live and photograph in the oldest and most traditional settlements in North America: the remote Inuit villages of Alaska, and the isolated Hispanic communities of northern New Mexico. As a photographer, I was eager to come as close as I could to the lives of the people in my pictures.

By the time I arrived in Cuba, I was no longer the same person who looked through the lens of my camera in search of family and community. I had my own family. And I was finally interested in photography itself, in what my pictures could tell me that I wasn’t already searching for or didn’t already know. I was also aware one crucial thing from my earlier work as a photographer that served me well in Cuba and guides me in my work today: how to immerse myself in a world and at the same time observe it, how to step back from the moment I am experiencing and take a picture—how to be at once near and far.


ABOUT ALEX HARRIS
For over forty years, Alex Harris has photographed across the American South, and in locations as disparate as the Inuit villages of Alaska, the streets of Havana, the fish markets of Mumbai, and the Hispanic settlements of northern New Mexico. Now Harris has selected photographs— some well-known and others that haven’t been widely seen—that are especially meaningful to him from across his body of work. In this exhibit, Harris also explores the various ways he’s approached and thought about the idea of distance as a photographer.

Alex Harris is a founder of the Center for Documentary Studies and of DoubleTake Magazine. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography, a Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellowship, and a Lyndhurst Prize. Harris’ work is represented in major photographic collections, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the North Carolina Museum of Art. His photographs have been exhibited widely, including exhibitions at the International Center of Photography in New York and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. On commission from the High Museum in Atlanta, Harris is currently photographing on independent movie sets across the South.

As a photographer and editor, Harris has published sixteen books, most recently in September of 2017, Dream of a House: The Passions and Preoccupations of Reynolds Price, which he and co-editor Margaret Sartor will be signing in the gallery. Alex Harris is represented by Ann Stewart Fine Art.


GALLERY TALK AND BOOK SIGNING WITH ALEX HARRIS
Wednesday, October 25, 5:30–7:00 p.m.

Along with a gallery talk for the exhibition Near and Far,  Alex Harris and Margaret Sartor will be signing copies of Dream of a House: The Passions and Preoccupations of Reynolds Price.  Talk begins at 6:30.

Christopher Sims's "Theater of War," Currently Featured on Atlas Obscura, Receives Graham Foundation Publication Grant

Christopher Sims's Theater of War project is currently featured on the website for Atlas Obscura. Eve Kahn, former New York Times columnist, penned the overview of Sims's project on simulated war-zone villages.

In related news on the CDS website:

The Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) is delighted to announce that director of undergraduate education and lecturing fellow Christopher Sims has received a 2017 Graham Foundation Grant to support the publication of a book of photographs, Theater of War: The Pretend Villages of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Graham Foundation makes their grants to diverse projects and programs that advance new scholarship, fuel creative experimentation and critical dialogue, and expand opportunities for public engagement with architecture and its role in contemporary society.

Since its founding in 1989, the Center for Documentary Studies has been committed to publishing works of creative exploration by writers and photographers who convey new ways of seeing and understanding human experience in all its diversity—books that tell stories, challenge our assumptions, awaken our social conscience, and connect life, learning, and art. Christopher Sims’s body of work for Theater of War exemplifies this mission. This long-term project relies on extended research and fieldwork and is told artfully and imaginatively; it is work based in a commitment to motivate the thinking and reflection of others.


Insurgent in Village, Fort Polk, Louisiana. From "Theater of War: The Pretend Villages of Iraq and Afghanistan."

Insurgent in Village, Fort Polk, Louisiana. From "Theater of War: The Pretend Villages of Iraq and Afghanistan."


Since 2001, Christopher has been engaged in investigating, with an insistent curiosity, American military ventures from the perspective of the home front. The photographs for Theater of War were made within fictitious villages on the training grounds of U.S. Army bases, places largely unknown to most Americans. The villages are situated in the deep forests of North Carolina and Louisiana, and in a great expanse of desert near Death Valley in California. Each base features clusters of villages spread out over thousands of acres, in a pretend country known by a different name at each base: Talatha, Braggistan, or “Iraq.”

The villages serve as a strange and poignant way station for people heading off to war and for those who have fled it. U.S. soldiers interact with pretend villagers who are often recent immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan, who have now found work in America playing a version of the lives they left behind. The remainder of the village population is drawn from the local communities near the Army bases, including spouses of active-duty soldiers as well as military veterans of America’s wars in Vietnam and Korea.

Sometimes Christopher is a role player himself. As he describes it, “Sometimes I visit the villages with access provided by the military’s public affairs office; other times I am . . . playing the character of a war photographer for the ‘International News Network.’ Here, backstage in the war on terrorism, I see insurgents planting a bomb in a Red Crescent ambulance; American soldiers negotiating with a reluctant mayor; a suicide bomber detonating herself outside of a mosque; and villagers erupting in an anti-American riot. The designers and inhabitants of these worlds take great pride in the scope and fidelity of their wars-in-miniature. By day’s end, hundreds of soldiers and civilians lay dead—the electronic sensors on their special halters indicating whether friendly fire, an improvised explosive device, or a sniper’s bullet has killed them.”

Christopher’s work is not simply intelligent and ingeniously executed, it could not be more relevant. He has earned a surprising vantage on a rapidly changing global theater we are all struggling to comprehend. With Theater of War he gives us unusual access to places that we haven’t been while giving us glimpses of where we may be headed. This incisive, original, and multi-dimensional story is one that needs to be shared, and preserved.

A CDS Book of Theater of War is forthcoming in 2019.

Work by Alex Harris Included in Unprecedented "Created by Light" Exhibition at Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC

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Work by Alex Harris will be included in an upcoming exhibition, Created by Light, in Wilmington, North Carolina. The show will run September 16, 2017–February 11, 2018

Exploring the photography collections of nine North Carolina art museums, the exhibition Created by Light will showcase over 100 photographs highlighting both the pioneers of the medium and contemporary artists working in the field today. The exhibition opens to the public at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington on September 16, 2017.

CAM invited eight North Carolina art museums to participate in this collaborative exhibition, asking each to curate which photographs to feature from their permanent collections. One museum focused on Bauhaus works created between the world wars, another curated a body of work by North Carolina photographers, while others chose work by such well-known artists as Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres Serrano, Mickalene Thomas, Burk Uzzle, Edward Weston, Aaron Siskind, Francesca Woodman and Ansel Adams

Collecting photographic artworks has become one the fastest growing and highly desirable concentrations within museums. There has been a decided shift in the art world to acknowledge the importance of collecting and preserving photography as an art form in its own right.

Museums contributing to this unprecedented exhibition are Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill; Asheville Art Museum, Asheville; Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington; Greenville Museum of Art, Greenville; Gregg Museum of Art & Design, Raleigh; The Mint Museum, Charlotte; Nasher Museum of Art, Durham; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro.

The Cameron Art Museum is producing a fully illustrated catalog to accompany the exhibition with essays by Jennifer Dasal, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art (North Carolina Museum of Art); Holly Tripman Fitzgerald, Chief Curator (Cameron Art Museum); Carolyn Grosch, Associate Curator (Asheville Art Museum); Elaine D. Gustafson, Curator of Collections (Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Greensboro); Sammy Kirby, Guest Curator (Gregg Museum of Art & Design, North Carolina State University); Peter Nisbet, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs (Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill); Marshall N. Price, Nancy Hanks Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art (Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University); Edward M. Puchner, Executive Director (Greenville Museum Art); Jonathan Stuhlman, Senior Curator of American, Modern, and Contemporary Art (Mint Museum)
 

OPENING RECEPTION:

Friday, September 15, 6:30–8:00 p.m. 
CAM Members and guests: $10 per admission

Meet exhibiting artists while enjoying lite bites, cash bar and music by Big Al Hall and Sean Gould. 


ARTISTS IN THE EXHIBITION:

Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984); Matthew Albanese (American, 1983); Darren Almond (British, 1971); Rob Amberg (American, 1947); Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971); Pinky M.M. Bass (American, 1938); Irene Bayer-Hecht (American, 1898-1991); Ilse Bing (American, 1899-1998); James Bridges (American, 1958); Ralph Burns (American, 1944); Harry Callahan (American, 1912-1999); Diego Camposeco (American, 1992); Carolyn DeMeritt (American, 1946); Braun Photo Dienst (German, early 20th century); Elliott Erwitt (American, 1928); Taj Forer (American, 1981); Anna Gaskell (American, 1969); Jeff Goodman (American, 1961); Cathryn Griffin (American, 1955); Alex Harris (American, 1949); Lyle Ashton Harris (American, 1965); Titus Brooks Heagins (American, 1950); Albert Hennig (German, 1907-1998); Barkley L. Henricks (American, 1945-2017); Lewis W. Hine (American, 1874-1940); Chris Hondros (American, 1970-2011); Tom Hunter (British, 1965); William Henry Jackson (American, 1843-1942); Nikki S. Lee (Korean, 1970); Ann Lislegaard (Norwegian, 1962); Robert Mapplethorpe (American, 1946-1989); George Masa (Japanese, 1881-1933); Elizabeth Matheson (American, 1942); Ralph Eugene Meatyard (American, 1925-1972); John Menapace (American, 1927-2010); Ottonella Mocellin (Italian, 1966); Barbara Morgan (American, 1900-1992); Vik Muniz (American, born in Brazil, 1961); Eadweard Muybridge (English, 1830-1904); Joel Meyerowitz (American, 1938); Nicholas Nixon (American, 1947); Anneè Olofsson (Swedish, 1966); Susan Harbage Page (American, 1959); Matthew Pillsbury (American, 1973); Alex Prager (American, 1978); Wendy Red Star (Native American, 1981); Sophy Rickett (British, 1970); Walter Rosenblum (American, 1919-2006) Daniela Rossell (Mexican, 1973); Hans Saebens (German, 1895-1969); Jo Sandman (American, 1930); Bonnie Schiffman (American, 1950); Fritz Schleifer (German, 1903-1977); Herbert Schurmann (German, 1908-1981); Andres Serrano (American, 1950); Lorna Simpson (American, 1960); Aaron Siskind (American, 1903-1991); Kerry Skarbakka (American, 1970); Mike Smith (American, 1951); W. Eugene Smith (American, 1918-1978); David M. Spear (American, 1937); Anton Stankowski (German, 1906-1998); Alfred Stieglitz (American, 1864-1946); Mickalene Thomas (American, 1971); George Trump (German, 1896-1985); Burk Uzzle (American, 1938); Caroline Vaughan (American, 1949); Robert von Sternberg (American, 1939); Melanie Walker (American, 1949); Edward Weston (American, 1886-1958); Marion Post Wolcott (American, 1910-1990); Francesca Woodman (American, 1958-1981); Roy Zalesky (American, 1943-2015).

Bill Ferris's "The South in Color" Exhibit Opens in Jackson, Mississippi

Bill Ferris
The South in Color
Opening Reception & Book Signing
Friday, August 18, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Fischer Galleries @ Event Space 119, 119 S. President Street, Jackson, Mississippi

Bill Ferris, who is the Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, will be on hand tonight at the opening for his exhibition, The South in Color, at Fischer Galleries in Jackson, Mississippi. Lemuria Books will have available copies of The South In Color (published by the University of North Carolina Press) for purchase. The artist will be present to sign books and talk about his work. 

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William Ferris was born and raised on his family's farm in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Since the moment William Ferris's parents gave their twelve-year-old son a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye camera for Christmas in 1954, Ferris passionately began to photograph his world. He has never stopped. The sixties and seventies were a particularly significant period for Ferris as he became a pathbreaking documentarian of the American South. This beautiful, provocative collection of Ferris's photographs of the South, taken during this formative period, capture the power of his color photography. Color film, as Ferris points out in the book's introduction, was not commonly used by documentarians during the latter half of the twentieth century, but Ferris found color to work in significant ways in the photographic journals he created of his world in all its permutations and surprises.

 

Margaret Sartor Contributes to New William Gedney Book

Margaret Sartor, whose own photographic work is represented by Ann Stewart Fine Art, has recently returned from the exhibition opening of the Willian Gedney retrospective in France connected to the book she contributed to. The show, William Gedney: Only the Lonely, 1955–1984, opened June 28 and is on view through September 17, 2017 at the Pavillon Populaire in Montpellier.

Mysterious, introspective, fiercely private, and self-taught, street photographer William Gedney (1932–1989) produced impressive series of images focused on people whose lives were overlooked, hidden, or reduced to stereotypes. He was convinced that photography was a means of expression as efficient as literature, and his images were accompanied by writings, essays, excerpts from books, and aphorisms. Gedney avoided self-promotion, and his underrepresented work was largely unknown during his short lifetime. He died at the age of fifty-six from AIDS.



William Gedney: Only the Lonely, 1955–1984 is the first comprehensive retrospective of his photography. It presents images from all of his major series, including eastern Kentucky, where Gedney lived with and photographed the family of laid-off coal miner Willie Cornett; San Francisco and Haight-Ashbury, where he attached himself to a group of disaffected youth, photographing them as they drifted from one vacant apartment to the next during the “Summer of Love”; early photo-reportage of gay pride parades in the eighties; Benares, India, Gedney’s first trip abroad, during which he obsessively chronicled the concurrent difficulty and beauty of daily life; and night scenes that, in the absence of people and movement, evoke a profound universal loneliness. The most complete overview of Gedney’s work to date, this volume reveals the undeniable beauty of a major American photographer.

The publication associated with the exhibition is written by Gilles Mora with Margaret Sartor and Lisa McCarty. The exhibition is curated by Gilles Mora.


no known title, 1966–1967. William Gedney Photographs and Papers courtesy of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

no known title, 1966–1967. William Gedney Photographs and Papers courtesy of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.


Margaret Sartor is a writer, photographer, and curator. She teaches documentary photography at Duke University and is the coeditor with Geoff Dyer of What Was True: The Photographs and Notes of William Gedney.

Gilles Mora has been the editor in chief of the magazine Les Cahiers de la Photographie, an editor with Éditions du Seuil in Paris, and the artistic director of the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles. Currently he is the director of the city of Montpellier’s Pavillon Populaire. He was awarded the Nadar Prize for the Last Photographic Heroes: American Photographers of the Sixties and Seventies.

Lisa McCarty is curator of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University and is in charge of the William Gedney archives there.

PRESS COVERAGE

“De New York au Kentucky, William Gedney a immortalisé les États-Unis avec sensibilité.” Cheese. By Lise Lanot. July 13, 2017.

“William Gedney « Only the Lonely » à Montpellier.” En Revenant de l’Expo. July 12, 2017.