What is Home? Keliy Anderson-Staley, Omar Imam, Rubén Martín de Lucas September 11 — October 31, 2020
Catherine Edelman Gallery is excited to open the Fall season with What is Home? featuring work by Keliy Anderson-Staley, Omar Imam and Rubén Martín de Lucas.
The Webster dictionary defines home as “one's place of residence; the social unit formed by a family living together; a familiar or usual setting.” If you ask most people how they define home, it is either where they currently live, or where they grew up. But for many people today, home is not always tangible, due to displacement, border restrictions, or lack of safety. What is Home? brings together three photographers who each interpret the concept of home in very unique ways. The show opens September 11 and runs through October 31, 2020. To avoid crowds, the opening reception will be from noon – 7:00 pm on Friday, September 11.
For more than fifteen years, Keliy Anderson-Staley [b. 1977, Boston, MA] has been working on [Hyphen]-Americans, a photographic tintype portrait series that encapsulates what America looks like today. Using a large-format camera, Anderson-Staley photographs anyone interested in having their portrait taken, regardless of age, sex, or ethnicity, as she continually adds to her collection of more than 4000 portraits. In 2017, after her Houston home and studio were flooded by Hurricane Harvey, she created Shelter in Place, a wooden house constructed of 560 portraits of local residents, as a testament to the strength and resilience of Houstonians. The idea of building a house of strangers redefines the concept of home.
In 2012, Syrian activist turned photographer Omar Imam [b. 1979 Damascus, Syria] was kidnapped and tortured by a militia and only let go when a friend intervened. Soon after, Imam left Damascus, first settling in Beirut, and now residing in Amsterdam with his wife and children. Syrialism is Imam’s response to the reality of torture experienced by himself and other refugees who settled in Lebanon and other European countries. Like his earlier work, Imam met and talked with numerous refugees who had been abducted, recreating painful memories to bring awareness about the psychological and physical torment that continues today. No longer able to live in their native homelands, each person pictured has had to adopt a new place to call home.
Rubén Martín de Lucas’ [b. 1977, Madrid, Spain] work challenges the concept of home by constructing arbitrary boundaries in unexpected places. In Minimal Republics, he creates photographs about the concept of borders and our need for the structure they provide. Martín de Lucas creates each image the same: define and allocate 100㎡ of space and inhabit it for 24 hours. From wheat fields to soccer fields to expanses of dried earth, unidentified pieces of land are transformed into a temporary residence for one.
All three artists create work that invites us into different physical spaces that challenge the definition of home. We hope this exhibition inspires visitors to think about the concept of home and the inherent complexities this word invokes.
Keliy Anderson-Staley was raised off the grid in Maine, studied photography in New York City and currently lives and teaches photography at the University of Houston in Texas. She earned a BA from Hampshire College in Massachusetts and an MFA in photography from Hunter College in New York. She has been making wet plate collodion tintypes and ambrotypes for over ten years.
Shelter in Place was first installed in Houston, Texas in a train shed at an old rice silo. The installation was open for viewing 24 hours a day for just one week, and, even though the structure was in a covered space, the fragile tintypes were exposed to the elements—heat, dust, pollen and wind-blown rain. The residue of this exposure is recorded on the piece, suggesting our shared fragility in the face of disaster and environmental crisis.
Anderson-Staley’s home and studio were flooded by Hurricane Harvey. She constructed Shelter in Place in the aftermath of the storm as a testament to the strength and resilience of Houston’s communities. Each tintype plate is a powerful portrait of an individual and the entire piece is a portrait of the broader community. The installed structure is an expression of community as a form of shelter. The artist is interested in the idea of the public itself—both the anonymous faces of strangers that comprise our abstract concept of the public, and the local network of individuals, the familiar faces of our community.
The portraits in Shelter in Place is part of the artist’s larger project [Hyphen] Americans, a series of tintype portraits made with chemistry mixed according to nineteenth-century recipes, period brass lenses and wooden view cameras. Composed of thousands of portraits, the project is a broadly diverse collection of American faces.
Using the historic tintype process that made portraits ubiquitous in the 19th century, Anderson-Staley explores the role that photographic technologies have played in defining identities, while building a body of work that is expressive of the rich diversity of contemporary society. She creates portraits in collaboration with her sitters. With their assertive expressions, they demand to be seen beyond the categories that too often define us.
Every day the news about Syria grows worse and worse, as the country finds itself in a civil war with no apparent end. As of today, 6.6 million people have been displaced and the number keeps rising. More than 400,000 people have been murdered, and hundreds of thousands more have been severely beaten, starved and detained. More than 17,000 people have died in Syrian prisons, as a result of torture or inhumane conditions, and another 13,000 sentenced to death. The horror in Syria is now entering its 8th year, as the government seems to be systematically annihilating any form of dissent.
In 2012, Syrian activist turned photographer Omar Imam (b. 1979 Damascus) was kidnapped and tortured by a militia and only let go when a friend intervened. Soon after, Imam left Damascus with his parents and wife, settling in Beirut where he and his wife started a family. In 2016, he moved to Amsterdam, where he and his family currently reside.
Imam's project, Syrialism, directly confronts the reality of torture experienced by the artist himself, and other refugees who settled in Lebanon and other European countries. Like his earlier project Live, Love, Refugee, Imam met and talked with numerous refugees, this time focusing on those who were abducted. Syrialism recreates painful memories to bring awareness about the psychological and physical torture that persists in the ongoing Syrian civil war, and other areas where genocide is happening. This new series seeks to question our perception of justice, revenge, home, assimilation, religion, and most importantly, how we receive facts and build connections. Omar Imam is both a witness and survivor, whose photographs reveal the human face of suffering.
Rubén Martín de Lucas
Born in Madrid, Spain, 1977, Rubén Martín de Lucas graduated as Civil Engineer at Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Spain. 2002. In late 2002, after four months of traveling through India, he put aside engineering to devote himself entirely to art. In 2001, he became one of the five founders of Boa Mistura, a multidisciplinary artistic collective with roots in urban art with whom Rubén worked until 2015, making projects in South Africa, Spain, Norway, Germany, Algeria, Mexico and Brazil.
In January 2015 he began his solo career developing a body of work focusing on what the artist calls: “landscape and associated behavior.” Under this heading there is a discursive line that questions the behavior of humanity and its links with the territory, studying in his projects subjects the gradual reduction of space for wildlife in The Naked Trace, overpopulation in Genesis 1.28, the artificial character of borders in Minimal Republics, the fluid nature of the concept of nation in Iceberg Nations, and the dichotomy between industrial agriculture and natural agriculture in The Garden of Fukuoka.
De Lucas is interested in human links with the territory, which is often totalitarian and submissive. His series Minimal Republics investigates the mental constructions that serve as a base for our relationship with the rest of the people with whom we share the Earth.
With strong roots in painting and urban art, de Lucas has been evolving towards more conceptual processes, expanding his language to photography, video, and actions in landscapes, resulting in a rich range of languages in his work.