SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (September 12, 2017) — The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College invites the public to a conversation between two artists who use found photography in their work: Sarah Sweeney, a Skidmore College Associate Professor of Art, and German artist Joachim Schmid.
The conversation will take place at the Tang Teaching Museum on Thursday, September 28, at 6 p.m. The event is part of the Tang’s ongoing Dunkerley Dialogue series, and is free and open to the public.
Schmid, known for his work with photographs salvaged from flea markets, archives, catalogues, publications, the Internet, and city streets, recently donated to the Tang collection hundreds of works from his Archiv series (1986–1999). For that series, he found photographs at flea markets and created grids of similar images, such as portraits of lone young women on a beach, family Christmas photographs, or people posing before public statues. In doing so, he allows the commonplace images to be part of broader ideas about what people value, or don’t, and the relationship between photography and personal and collective memory.
Sweeney and student assistant Paris Baillie ’17 spent the summer researching Schmid’s Archiv at the Tang. They have found numerous points of inspiration and resonance between Schmid’s work and Sweeney’s own digital found-photograph project Reimaging Erica.
In Reimaging Erica, Sweeney works with more than 900 photographs on Flickr that show eight years in the life of a woman named Erica. Sweeney and Baillie have edited and manipulated those images to isolate Erica’s body, concealing and excluding the bodies of her husband, children, and anyone else in the frame. In some, Erica is alone and her body is whole; in others, her children and husband’s bodies overlap hers, and their removal creates gaping holes and amputations in her image. Since June 15, exactly eleven years after Erica’s husband, Michael Bentley, posted his first photograph online, Sweeney has been uploading the altered images onto Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/reimagingerica.
At the same time, Sweeney has entered into an artistic conversation with Schmid’s Archiv. Inspired by his grids, she has created her own grids using the altered images of Erica. One grid, for example, shows a series of Erica on a beach, with the gaping holes of her body growing from one image to the next, corresponding to the growth of her child over many years. The grids Sweeney and Baillie have created are each in dialogue with a specific grid from Schmid’s Archiv.
Sweeney and Baillie’s research and the Reimaging Erica project are supported by Accelerate: Access and Inclusion at The Tang Teaching Museum, a project of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Dunkerley Dialogues are generously funded by Michele Dunkerley ’80.
For more information about the event, please visit http://tang.skidmore.edu.
Schmid began his career in the 1980s as a critic and the publisher of Fotokritik, in which he argued against prevailing—and conservative—notions of “art photography” and in favor of a broader, more encompassing consideration of photography as a ubiquitous form of cultural production. When Fotokritik ceased publication in 1987, Schmid focused on his own artmaking, based primarily on found photography and public image sources. Schmid has exhibited internationally since the late 1980s in England, France, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Portugal, the United States, Brazil, Poland, and other countries. Joachim Schmid Photoworks 1982–2007, a mid-career retrospective, opened at the Tang Teaching Museum in 1997 before traveling to the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam and Bildmuseet in Umea, Sweden. In 2009, Schmid founded ABC Artists’ Books Cooperative, an international network for artists who make print-on-demand artists’ books.
Schmid’s work is included in major museum collections, including the Tang Teaching Museum; the Folkwang Museum, in Essen, Germany; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Nederlands Fotomuseum; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; and the Daelim Contemporary Art Museum in Seoul, South Korea. He is a recipient of the prestigious Mondriaan Prize of Holland and was awarded a Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung grant by the city of Berlin in 2004.
Sarah Sweeney received her BA in Studio Art from Williams College and an MFA in Digital Media from Columbia University School of the Arts. She is an Associate Professor of Art at Skidmore College. Her digital and interactive work interrogates the relationship between photographic memory objects and physical memories, and is informed by both the study of memory science and the history of documentary technologies. In her work, she explores the space between information that is stored corporeally in our memory and the information that is captured and stored in memory objects created by documentary technologies, including camera phones, stereoscopic cameras, and home video cameras. Each project makes tangible the deletions and accretions produced through our interactions with these technologies.
She is the creator of The Forgetting Machine, an iPhone app commissioned by the new media organization Rhizome, that systematically destroys digital photographs each time they are viewed or refreshed to simulate the theory of reconsolidation proposed by scientists studying memory. She has exhibited her work at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, the New Jersey State Museum, the Black and White Gallery, and the UCR/California Photography Museum.
The Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College is a pioneer of interdisciplinary exploration and learning. A cultural anchor of New York’s Capital Region, the institution’s approach has become a model for university art museums across the country—with exhibition programs and series that bring together the visual and performing arts with fields of study as disparate as history, astronomy, and physics. The Tang has one of the most rigorous faculty-engagement initiatives in the nation, the Mellon Seminar, and robust publication and touring exhibition initiatives that extend the institution’s reach far beyond its walls. The Tang Teaching Museum’s building, designed by architect Antoine Predock, serves as a visual metaphor for the convergence of ideas and exchange the institution catalyzes. The Tang is open Tuesday through Sunday, from noon to 5 pm, with extended hours until 9 pm on Thursday. For more information, call 518-580-8080 or visit the website at http://tang.skidmore.edu.