Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Art + Impact: Part 2

Common Place, currently on display on the 2nd floor at AMA, is a sociological photography exhibition created by Justine Graham and Rubie Rumié.

As our website describes: "the exhibit portrays the evolving subordinate relationship between Latin American housekeepers and their housewife employers, reflecting issues of gender, power, class and race.

Comprised of photographs, videos, and surveys of 100 women between the ages of 19 and 95, this project merges art and sociology, and explores new sensorial and emotional experiences in an attempt to discover affinities and differences among participants, separating itself from the bias and stereotypes present in hierarchical relationships. Common Place (Lugar Común) challenges conventional methods of portraiture and proposes new social constructs."

Common Place | Justine Graham and Ruby Rumié

When you first encounter the exhibit, you are not just confronted with, but pretty much slapped across the face (in a good way) with a charged social issue in South America. As someone who has never been to South America, I had a very similar first reaction seeing the work to most people I observe visiting the museum. Without reading any text or being taught anything by anyone, you immediately come to understand the relevance, importance, and how obviously underrepresented this subject must be in contemporary Latin American society. The pictures here on this blog and our website can not capture the experience of being completely inundated with these images that fill an entire room our museum.

The exhibit offers no opinions. Though the art speaks volumes in and of itself, it is without judgement or agenda. I have led some tours through the museum and I have found the experience very rewarding, particularly for this exhibit. I've seen people's eyes water up (some in loving memory of the housekeepers they grew up with, others in sadness over their personal conflict over the subject). People's reactions completely vary, ranging from curiosity to joy to revulsion. Despite what a person's reaction may be, a conversation always gets started and heated debates between visitors are common. 

Part of mission here at AMA is to create dialogue about current social issues. This exhibit presents a issue going on in parts of South America, yet is very accessible to anyone. We can all relate to the idea of “evolving subordinate relationships” we encounter in our daily lives. Though some might argue that the idea of presenting two social classes on the same level “has been done”, I have personally never seen it done in such a simple, artful, and accessible way.

Common Place | Justine Graham and Ruby Rumié

The selection of exhibits is critical to pursuing our mission as a museum. Art, as seen in Common Place, can wield great power in communicating ideas surrounding human rights, development, social class, the environment, and so on.

Next up: Educational Outreach

No comments:

Post a Comment