The Vanderelli Room in Franklinton will host the multi-artist exhibition Phantasmagoria from December 7, 2018, to January 3, 2018, Featuring the work of contemporary artists exploring early optical devices, the exhibition is curated by photographer Stephen Takacs and was supported with funding from the Franklinton Arts District's George Bellows Grant Program. We spoke with Stephen about Phantasmagoria.
How did you develop an interest in the types of devices explored in this exhibition?
My interest in optical devices grew from of my fascination with photography and an ongoing exploration of the roots of the medium. Incidentally, as you look deeper into these early technologies and their uses, one begins to realize correlations between 19th century photographic technology to devices that we use today. Such examples include the similarities of the 19th century the zoetrope to the gif; the accessibility of the Kodak Brownie and smart phone cameras; or the collecting of carte de vistes and Facebook friends.
How did the idea to do a multi-artist exhibition around this concept get started?
The concept for the show grew from conversations between AJ Vanderelli, Trademark Gunderson and I about a zoetrope centric peepshow project for Trauma. Although that particular project has yet to come to fruition it did lead me to start thinking about a show that could bring together a mix of artists exploring a variety of early optic technologies.
What was the process of selecting the artists like? What was their response to the concept?
The process of selecting artists for the show involved reaching out to people whose work I'd previously seen and thought might be a good fit for the exhibit. Three of the participating artists are academics whom I'd previously met or spent time with at Society for Photographic Education conferences and four of the artists are local. All of the artists share a similar enthusiasm not only in images but HOW an image is made.
Everyone in show was both excited by the concept and excited to be a part of it. Overall it's been a great experience.
Tell us in a sentence what people can expect to experience.
People can expect a much more interactive and kinetic photographic experience than they are used to having in an art gallery.
In a word: wonderment
How did funding from the George Bellows Grant support the exhibition?
The George Bellows Grant was instrumental in making this show happen. Having the financial support of the grant allowed me to ship in artwork from out-of-town artists to share with the local community. It also helped fund making some of the work in the show. Some of the work in the exhibit isn't traditionally salable (like a 9' tall vapor projection screen) so having funds to help pay artists to share their work helps support a sustainable creative ecosystem.
Additionally, the George Bellows Grant will help use run workshops with local students at the Gladden House after-school program.