The FLAG Art Foundation is pleased to present Vague Terrain: Analogues of Place in Contemporary Photography, a group exhibition curated by Stamatina Gregory, on view May 8-September 1, 2009, on its 9th floor. Artists include:
While photography’s unique capacity for fiction and distortion is something we now readily accept—even embrace—the persistent use of the medium to evoke fictive spaces has taken on its own critical currency. Since Gustave Le Gray crafted Brick au clair de lune (an 1856 photograph that used montage and exposure techniques to simulate a seascape) artists have used photography to generate illusory spaces, altered landscapes, and non-sites. Over a century later, the postmodern critique of representation in the 1970s sought to completely demolish photography’s relationship to reality. In the process, a visual vocabulary of self-reflexive strategies was amassed that was honed and expanded by contemporary artists. Through pastiche, the use of staged or crafted tableaux, the reproduction of built models, or the documentation of simulated sites, the works in this exhibition create subverted analogues of particular places in history, in time, or in collective memory: armed conflicts, space travel, romantic landscapes, and monumental architecture.
Two works anchor the exhibition: Thomas Demand’s Clearing, 2003 (a photograph of a sculptural construction and an implicit critique of a Romantic past) and Andreas Gursky’s 99 Cent (diptych), 2001 (a hyperreal montage evoking the poverty and excess of the future of capitalism). Respectively, this collection of works explores two corresponding trajectories: the formal and conceptual investigation of landscape as a mediated construction, and the simulation of specific spaces of history and spectacle.
Stamatina Gregory is a curator and an art historian whose work focuses primarily on the interrelationship of contemporary art and politics. She has organized exhibitions for institutions including The Cooper Union, FLAG Art Foundation, Austrian Cultural Forum, the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and the Santa Monica Museum of Art. In 2005-2006 she participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program, and from 2007-2009 she was the Whitney Lauder Curatorial Fellow at the ICA, Philadelphia, where she organized the exhibitions Carlos Motta: The Good Life and Tavares Strachan: Orthostatic Tolerance. Gregory was the curator of New York photographer and activist Brian Weil’s retrospective at the ICA, Philadelphia, and she was the Deputy Curator of the inaugural pavilion of The Bahamas at the 55th Venice Biennale. With Jeanne Vaccaro, she was the curator of Bring Your Own Body: transgender between archives and aesthetics at Cooper Union in 2016, where she was the Associate Dean. She has taught art history, critical theory, and writing at The New School, the School of Visual Arts, Purchase College, Sotheby’s Institute, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Steinhardt school at New York University.