Light Work hosts photography exhibition shaped by artist’s life
Light Work will host the exhibition, “Bollywood Cowboys and Indians from India, ” photographs by Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, though March 8 at the Robert B. Menschel Media Center, 316 Waverly Ave. A reception for the artist will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 1, preceded by a slide presentation by Matthew at 5:30 p.m. that day in Watson Theater.
Matthew was born in England, raised in India, and now lives in the United States. Her mixed or “masala” background continually shapes her life and her work. Her photographs are interpretations rather than a documentation of her life as an Asian-Indian woman immigrant.
Included in the exhibition is a selection from the series, “Bollywood Satirized.” Bombay, India, (or “Bollywood” at it is called) is the home of the largest commercial film industry in the world, producing nearly 1,000 movies per year. In the series, the artist uses digital technology to alter Indian movie posters and humorously challenge traditional gender roles and behavior in Indian society. Large-scale digital prints explore issues such as the dowry system, arranged marriages, discrimination based on skin color, interracial relationships and attitudes toward “liberated” women.
Also included in this exhibition is a portfolio of portraits titled “An Indian from India.” In this series, Matthew plays on racial stereotypes by combining 19th-century photographs of Native Americans from historical archives with digitally manipulated images of Asian Indians mimicking similar poses. As an immigrant, Matthew is often questioned about where she is “really from.” She often has to clarify that she is an “Indian from India” and not an American Indian.
“The more time I spend in America, the more I learn about the injustices inflicted upon and stereotyping of Native Americans,” Matthew says. “I find similarities in how photographers at the time looked at what they called the primitive natives, similar to the colonial gaze of the 19th-century British photographers in India.” In this sense Matthew illustrates how these types of representations only serve to perpetuate and reinforce cultural stereotypes.
Matthew is an assistant professor of photography at the University of Rhode Island. She has won numerous awards, including the Joseph Rose Artist of Color Fellowship at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village, Colo., and the New Works Award from En Foco and the Heathcote Art Foundation in New York City. Her work has been published in Blue Sky, Nueva Luz, PhotoMetro and Photo District News. She has exhibited widely, including at the Southern Light Gallery in Houston; El Taller Boricua Gallery in New York City; John Nichols Gallery in Santa Paula, Calif.; and the Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Ore.
Two other exhibits will also be on display at Light Work through March 8. They include:
? “Art Media Studies Senior Photography Annual,” a diverse sampling of work by senior photography students from the art media studies department in the School of Art and Design in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. A reception for the artists will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 1; and
? “Cover Girls,” an electronic canvas by Patti Ambrogi. A photographer, Ambrogi has created a project in three parts which attempts to redescribe and remap the understanding of how media and its images create the phenomenon thought of as reality. This series of electronic canvases will be play on a flat panel screen in the main exhibition space of Light Work. Ambrogi reconfigures familiar images of cover girls from popular culture, such as Monica Lewinsky, Princess Diana, Dolly Parton, Marilyn Monroe, Hillary Clinton and Linda Tripp. She brings to the surface an accumulation of buried meanings, re-encoding popular images and challenging the viewers sense of truth and fiction.
Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Friday. For more information, call Light Work at 443-1300.