The OU Art Gallery’s newest exhibit “Image and The Photographic Allusion,” is now open through April 3. The exhibit features photographs taken by 15 different artists from around the world and prompts viewers to question the allusive qualities of photographic imagery.
Dick Goody, chair of the Department of Art and Art History and director of the OU Art Gallery, said he curated this exhibit both to allow people to experience art in an in-person format, as well as to recognize the brilliance of ambiguity in the photographic allusion.
“I think this is a very timely exhibition, particularly for students that are interested in the visual arts, because the visual arts — like theater or any kind of thing that is performative — has really been cut off in the last couple of years because of COVID-19 and I think this is a great opportunity for people to really experience some work in the flesh,” Goody said.
Goody writes in his essay, “Nothing to do with something,” found in the exhibit’s catalog, “photography is thriving, but in a curious way, it is less proliferating than ever…Photography exhibitions give us pause to reconsider the aesthetic grandeur of a printed-out, permanent, archivable image.”
He notes the hold technology and social media has over the way we, as a society, view photographic art. The immediacy of modern photography and egotism surrounding social media has interrupted how people process photographic images and their splendor.
“In other words, we’re absolutely obsessed with looking at our phones and scrolling, and this gives us an opportunity to look at the photograph in a different way, which I think we used to do more in the old days. We’ve become very much like photo consumers, we just eat them,” Goody said.
“I picked this because of that issue about the ubiquity of smartphone pictures but the kind of photography I was interested in is photography that doesn’t immediately reveal its meaning. For example, the famous photograph of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square [V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt], everybody’s seen it. It’s a sensational photograph and you immediately look at it and you read it and you understand what it’s about. None of the photographs in this exhibition are like that. You have to look at them and scratch your head.”
The art gallery provides students, faculty and staff with the opportunity to view renowned artwork at no cost. “Image and The Photographic Allusion,” is an exhibit aimed at exploring photographic artwork that is, in this context, not meant to be conceptualized but enjoyed.
“The idea is you go into the exhibition with an open mind. I’m not really interested in the idea of interpretation; I think that you just get lost in the pictures and have an open mind. You don’t have to interpret them, you don’t have to say, ‘well what is the meaning of this,’ you can just enjoy them for what they are because they’re really like visual poetry. I’m looking at them more poetically and they give you a chance to dream,” Goody said.
Goody hopes this exhibit serves as a way for people to view large-scale photographic images and, in a sense, hit the reset button to unclog your brain. He feels that the exhibit presents a unique opportunity for busy students, and all community members, to take a break and look at some art.
The OU Art Gallery, located in Wilson Hall, will also begin offering a virtual tour of the exhibit to be finalized this week. In conjunction with this exhibit, artist Mary Ellen Bartley will be featured in the Zoom lecture, “Book Work,” on Feb. 24. For more information on the exhibit and for gallery hours, visit ouartgallery.org.