Looking Askance: Talk by UChicago Faculty and Students from Department of Visual Arts

5:30–7:30 pm
UChicago Center in Delhi


Drawing on India’s long tradition of documentary photography, Looking Askance considered contemporary photographic works from the University of Chicago that responded to current events and media imagery. These works complicated what it means to “bear witness” by proposing a problematic relationship to the utopic premise that photographs can shift the social and political conditions they picture. The exhibition’s curator, acclaimed photographer Laura Letinsky, as well as two artists featured in the show, Anna Elise Johnson and Marco G. Ferrari, discussed photography’s relationship to the production and dissemination of historical truth. Casting suspicion on the possibility of an absolute historical narrative, these artists examined our shifting understanding of documentary photography. Presented by The University of Chicago Center in Delhi and Logan Center Exhibitions.

Artist Bios

Laura Letinsky is an artist and professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago. Recent exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Photographers Gallery, London, and Denver Art Museum, CO. Previous shows include the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography; Casino Luxembourg; Galerie m Bochum, Germany; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and The Renaissance Society, Chicago. Collections include the Art Institute of Chicago; J.P. Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Hermes Collection, Paris; Musee de Beaux­Arts, Montreal, QUE; Museum of Fine Art, Houston, TX; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She has received grants from numerous institutions, including the Richard Driehaus Foundation, Anonymous Was A Woman Foundation, John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and Canada and Manitoba Arts Council. Publications include Feast, After All, Hardly More Than Ever, Blink, Venus Inferred, and Ill Form and Void Full.

Marco G. Ferrari is an Italian ­American video artist based in Chicago. He received his MFA from the University of Chicago in 2013 and his BA from DePaul University in Communication and Italian. He builds films, installations, digital images, sounds, and video projection performances that explore our relationships with place and time, to probe how identity is shaped by tensions raised by our attachments to or de­attachments from our built and natural environments. Screenings of his films have been exhibited in the Italian Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, the Galleria d’Arte Moderna–Palazzo Forti and Grafiche Aurora in Verona, Italy, the Athens International Film and Video Festival in Ohio, the Chicago Cultural Center, and at Aspect Ratio Gallery in Chicago. His video installation at the University of Chicago Delhi Center featured his new film piece Ferragosto, which included footage of the Costa Concordia still half­submerged long after the cruise ship capsized in Italy in 2012.

Anna Elise Johnson is a Houston ­based artist born in Starnberg, Germany working with photography, collage, and drawing. She received her MFA from the University of Chicago in 2012 and her BFA in painting and art history from Washington University in St. Louis in 2005. Her most recent two ­person exhibition, Monuments in the System, considers the normalization of power structures through the solidification of historical narratives. Johnson suspends politically ­charged collages in standing blocks of acrylic and hand poured resin, creating layers of repeated images that simultaneously obscure and reveal. Her window installation at the University of Chicago Delhi Center responded to the liberalization of India’s markets and move toward open foreign investment and privatization. Featuring pictures of Indian economic meetings—the handshakes, bouquets, and mise­en­scene from rooms of negotiation—pieced together with a image of a collapsed factory to form a barricade of imagery. Johnson has exhibited in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Berlin.