Middlebury, VT— On Thursday, September 12, the Middlebury College Museum of Art will open the exhibition Screened and Selected II: Contemporary Photography and Video Acquisitions 2006–2011. The 26 works included in the exhibition were all chosen for the Museum collection by Middlebury College students who participated in a winter-term course in Contemporary Photography. Among the photographers represented are Bernd and Hilla Becher, Chuck Close, Robert Mapplethorpe, Shirin Neshat, Cindy Sherman, the Starn brothers, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and James Welling. Video works by Fischli and Weiss, Tracey Moffatt, and Jacco Olivier are also included.
The installation is the second in a series devoted to the acquisition project initiated in 1999 by Middlebury alumna and New York gallerist Marianne Boesky ’89. Believing that students could learn valuable lessons about art and artists—and also gain useful practical experience—by participating actively in the art market, Boesky proposed the project to Museum Director Richard Saunders. The two determined that photography and video art were areas that would afford the greatest opportunity for collecting contemporary art by affordable up-and-coming artists. The results of the project’s first five years were exhibited and published in 2005.
Shirin Neshat (American, born Iran, 1957), Fervor Series, 2000, gelatin silver print, 17 7/8 x 22 1/4 inches. Collection of Middlebury College Museum of Art, purchase with funds provided by the Contemporary Photography, Film, and Video Acquisition Fund, 2006.018.
Since that time Chief Curator Emmie Donadio has taught a winter-term class that has determined the direction of the acquisition process. Involving some thirty students over the years, the process has empowered students to research artists of particular interest before presenting specific works of art to a group of their peers for final selection. Their research process included on-site visits to galleries and artist studios in New York and Boston, bringing them into direct conversation with art dealers, curators, and conservators. These opportunities as well as the preparation for their final presentations gave the participating students a practical acquaintance with curatorial work. The larger audience of their peers also guaranteed a broader awareness of this unusual opportunity for students to have an influence on a museum’s collection. The only other similar project that involves students in building a collection is one at the Harvard University Business School.
Mike and Doug Starn (American, born 1961), Structure of Thought #19, 2001–2008, MIS and Lysonic inkjet prints on Thai mulberry, gampi and tissue papers with wax, encaustic, and varnish, 41 1/4 x 48 inches. Collection of Middlebury College Museum of Art. Purchase with funds provided by the Contemporary Photography, Film, and Video Acquisition Fund, 2008.013.
Many of the students who participated in the winter-term course have gone on to graduate study in studio art, architecture, art history, and film, and a considerable number are currently working in museums and galleries in the U.S. and abroad.
The wide-ranging interests of students over a six-year period has generated an installation that highlights a diverse group of artists, techniques, and topics. The mediums surveyed include silver gelatin prints and DVDs as well as digitally produced chromogenic color prints. When the project was initiated, celluloid film was the medium that most still photographers preferred. In the past decade, however, digital technology has overtaken the industry, and both the Polaroid Corporation and Kodak have gone out of business. So artists included in Screened and Selected have come to significance in an era of enormous changes in both the production and conception of photographic art.
Harri Kallio (Finnish, born 1970), Mare Longue Reservoir #1, Mauritius from the series The Dodo and Mauritius Island: Imaginary Encounters, 2002, digital chromogenic print, 29 1/2 x 35 inches. Collection of Middlebury College Museum of Art, purchase with funds provided by the Christian A. Johnson Memorial Art Acquisition Fund, 2010.004.
A brochure illustrating all of the works on view will be available. Screenings of video presentations on the artists included in the exhibition and of video projects related to specific still images on view are scheduled throughout the term. As these may appear at sites beyond the Museum itself, please check the Museum website, museum.middlebury.edu, for up-to-date information on specially scheduled screenings.
Screened and Selected II will remain on view in the Museum’s Overbrook Gallery through Sunday, December 8.