Seventeen Duke faculty members will debut their works tomorrow at the Power Plant Gallery, the Center for Documentary Studies’s offsite exhibition space at the American Tobacco Campus. Dubbed “In Practice,” the exhibition will feature photography, film and video, printmaking and new media pieces by professors from the departments of Art, Art History and Visual Studies, the Center for Documentary Studies and the Program in the Arts of the Moving Image (AMI).
Along with the 100-seat Full Frame Theater and an event space called the Boiler Room, the Power Plant Gallery was erected as part of the Center for Documentary Studies’s expansion into the American Tobacco Campus. These spaces were built to provide off-campus arts venues that were accessible to the Duke, Durham and greater Triangle communities. While Full Frame’s administrative offices were already based at the Campus, these additions make its presence more coherent and visible at the forefront of the Durham arts scene.
“People can now take part in what Full Frame has to offer even when it’s not during the actual festival,” said Teka Selman, director of the Power Plant Gallery. “This space tries to honor artistic life outside of Duke’s campus while engaging with the Durham community.”
For Selman, "outside of Duke’s campus" refers to the physical boundaries of campus exhibition spaces. These venues offer solid opportunities for artists to display their work, but they aren’t as open to Durham as they could be. Selman added that having an off-campus exhibition space allows visitors to engage in art in an approach that is not directly related to the university. While the venues at the American Tobacco Campus will always operate under the umbrella of the Center for Documentary Studies, they also function as community art spaces.
“In Practice” blurs the line between the Duke and Durham divide: the featured Duke faculty are also practicing artists based in Durham, and the collection is an opportunity for the gallery to perform as a mediator. Featuring work from faculty artists of different styles and media, "In Practice" offers an extensive viewing experience that draws from numerous creative bases.
“We wanted to give the community a chance to see what Duke faculty are working on while giving students a reason to come off campus for art,” said Selman.
Pedro Lasch, associate research professor of Art, Art History and Visual Studies, will present "Veiled Conversations," an interactive mixed-media piece comprising a chair, a tablecloth and an edited five-minute audio documentary.
“I like doing work that develops through different formats and contexts while informing the kind of media I work with,” Lasch said. “Installed in both artistic and non-artistic contexts, the work may give place to different encounters with a given public, provide a stage for conversations on particular topics related or unrelated to the act of veiling, and generally offer a space of social experimentation, or calm and refuge and isolation for any participant.”
Alex Harris, founder of the Center for Documentary Studies, will feature a photograph of the Corcoran Avenue and Pettigrew Street intersection in Downtown Durham. The photo was originally part of his work for the Bull City Summer project, an initiative to produce creative writing and visuals featuring the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Harris said he intended for the photo to be one of a number of night landscapes of Durham, each with the presence of the Bulls stadium and fireworks in the distance.
“It strikes me that both photographs are about the limitations as well as the possibilities of still photography to record the passage of time,” Harris said. “[It’s] also the result of my focus on one building and its function—actual and symbolic—in the larger North Carolina landscape.”
Another segment to look out for at the Power Plant is the experimental film "Mount Song" by Shambhavi Kaul, visiting artist and adjunct instructor of AMI.
“Through strategies of repurposing and recirculating, I have been exploring cinematic production that passed though networks outside Europe and America,” Kaul said. “In this case I have used a group of Hong Kong films as my source material, and I’m specifically interested in the depiction of place in these productions.”
These are mere glimpses of the stunning new collection by which faculty members display their work as artists.
"A gallery is the ideal place for the vision of an artist to be realized precisely as the artist conceives and renders it," said Harris. "In a similar vein it strikes me that the Power Plant Gallery is located in the heart of downtown Durham in a place where a large and diverse cross section of people come every day. [It] is poised to bring a new vision of experimental and documentary art out of the University to speak to this wider audience, to help to redefine what art can mean in our daily lives."
“In Practice” debuts Friday, Oct. 25 at the Power Plant Gallery in the American Tobacco Campus. For more information, visit http://www.cdsporch.org/archives/19979.