August 28 - October 13, 2017
The images on display are part of the feature exhibition Reverence by two artists, Robert Knight and Ben Altman, on view in the main Dowd Gallery space.
Robert Knight’s works are a selection from a larger body of work Transnational: Sacred Space and Place in Transition that reflect the architecture intermingling of different faiths as communities repurpose spaces and as natural migrations encourage the infusion of architectural styles from different parts of the world. Two images of prayer niches, one from a mosque in Rome and the other taken from a Catholic church in Marrakech, both reflect the influence of Islamic architectural styles in Europe and Western Africa, and share distinct architectural similarities, despite being homes to different faiths. The third image is an interior photograph from a modern mosque in East London which was built adjacent to a small Orthodox Jewish synagogue that operated from 1899 to 2014, and whose Star of David stained glass window remains visible today.
Ben Altman’s works are a selection form a Site-Sight series depicting visitors of memorial sites and museums dedicated to the remembrance of tragic historical events. Altman explains, “Over the past few years I have photographed tourists and the images on their camera screens at many memorials, sites, and museums that commemorate episodes of mass violence. At such places, the normally commonplace action of taking and sharing a photograph creates complex and opposing messages of reverence and triviality.
Raising a device between oneself and a site of atrocity could be characterized as distancing and reductive. An impulse to manage and defuse what these places mean, however, is understandable and perhaps even necessary. Similarly, the memorials themselves invite engagement but also obstruct it. They often present appalling, chaotic events with unwarranted coherence or with the blankness of preserved artifacts. The sites and the photography each suggest questions: how to see these places; how to empathize with the unknowable experiences of the people who were caught up in the events; what the purposes of such memorials might be; how to understand the ways in which past horrors configure our present world; how to live with our knowledge.
The people in my images are strangers who are mostly unaware of my intention. I use a large hand-held 4x5 press camera from the 1940’s, vintage equipment that fits well with thinking about the present in terms of the past.”