“Screened & Selected: Contemporary Photography and Video Acquisitions 1999–2005”

January 19–June 4, 2006

For immediate release: 1/16/06
For further information contact: Emmie Donadio, Chief Curator, (802) 443–2240

Middlebury, Vt.—On Thurs. Jan. 19, the Middlebury College Museum of Art opens the exhibition Screened and Selected: Contemporary Photography and Video Acquisitions 1999-2005. Works by twenty photographers are included, among them such well-known artists as Larry Clark, Gregory Crewdson, Philip-Lorca di Corcia, Nan Goldin, Peter Hujar, Sally Mann, Mary Ellen Mark, Vik Muniz, and Francesca Woodman. The exhibition surveys the Museum’s rich and growing collection of contemporary photography and video, a collection made possible by the vision and generosity of a recent alumna.

In 1999 Marianne Boesky, Class of 1989, approached the Museum with the offer of a multi-year gift that would specifically enable the acquisition of “cutting edge” photography and video works for the College. A unique feature of her proposed Contemporary Photography, Film, and Video Acquisition Fund was the stipulation that current students would select the acquisitions. This exhibition demonstrates the choices they have made over the past six years.

Although the selection procedure has evolved over time, a constant has been the participation of interested majors in the history of art and architecture, studio art, and film and media culture, as well as that of the Museum Assistants, students who volunteer their time and serve as docents for school groups. Each year, after studying the artists under consideration, the students are presented with a body of works, all of which are available for purchase on the actual day of selection. In addition to making aesthetic judgments, the students are required to decide as a group how their dollars will be spent. Some years they have chosen to acquire as many as five works, some years fewer. Starting in 2005 the donor’s allocation was matched by funds from the Museum, doubling the spending allowance and bringing within reach some works that had previously been impossible to acquire.

The works on view represent a full range of contemporary photographic techniques, from gelatin silver prints and chromogenic prints to digital video and a unique dye destruction photogram. Encompassing the full range of traditional subjects—portraits, landscapes, and cityscapes, for example—the images also include such conceptual works as a 16-part grid illustrating one of Olafur Eliasson’s “walks” and a memorable photographic image of film star Buster Keaton that Vic Muniz drew originally in ink, copying a celebrity photo of the actor. Muniz is famous for photographing his drawings of Old Master paintings. His version of Leonardo’s Last Supper in chocolate syrup and Monet’s Haystacks comprised of thousands of color swatches are well known. The largest image, measuring eight feet in width, is an elaborately produced photograph by Gregory Crewdson, who directed a sizeable production staff to capture his dramatic image of what seems to be a significant moment in a complex cinematic narrative.

Screened and Selected: Contemporary Photography and Video Acquisitions 1999–2005 coincides with a course for students interested in choosing the acquisitions for the current academic year. During the month of January these students will research a number of artists and survey the market for photography and video works. They will also study issues pertaining to the conservation of photographs in traditional and newer media, for the goal of the program is to provide future generations of students with works that they will find as engaging, significant, and perhaps even as provocative as those assembled in this exhibition.

The Middlebury College Museum of Art is free and open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It is closed Mondays. The Museum is accessible to people with varying disabilities. Parking is available in the Center for the Arts parking lot. For further information, please call (802) 443–5007 or TTY (802) 443–3155, or visit the Museum’s website atwww.middlebury.edu/museum.