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Multiple photographs in black frames hung on a bright purple gallery wall
Fig. 1

Human Rights Human Wrongs (installation view), 2014 © Clifton Li, Ryerson Image Centre

Human rights is the focus of four new exhibitions at the Ryerson Image Centre January - April, 2013

Jan. 17, 2013

Four new exhibitions at the Ryerson Image Centre address human rights and further the thought- provoking curatorial vision of director Doina Popescu.

Human Rights Human Wrongs; Alfredo Jaar: The Politics of Images; Clive Holden: UnAmerican Unfamous; and Dominic Nahr: Captive State open on Wednesday January 23, 2013.

Featuring 316 original prints from the prestigious Black Star Collection, Human Rights Human Wrongs uses the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a point of departure to examine whether images of political struggle, suffering and victims of violence work for or against humanitarian objectives, especially when considering questions of race, representation, ethical responsibility and the cultural position of the photographer. Curated by Mark Sealy, Director of Autograph ABP in London, England, and named a 2012 Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to photography, Human Rights Human Wrongs begins circa 1945 and includes well-known Civil Rights Movement events such as the Selma to Montgomery March and Martin Luther King's “I Have a Dream” speech. The exhibition also features images of the independence movements in African countries including Kenya, Algeria, Chad, and Congo; portraits of Nobel Peace Prize winners Lester B. Pearson, Yasser Arafat, and Rene? Cassin; images of protests in locations such as Berkeley, Chile, and Argentina; and war and conflict from the Vietnam War to the Rwandan Genocide in 1994.

Through Human Rights Human Wrongs, we see the wide dissemination of photographic images of humankind in abject, euphoric or violently explicit conditions, and examine how these images assist us in understanding the case for human and civil rights. Viewer discretion and parental guidance is advised. Human Rights Human Wrongs is made possible by the generous support of TD Bank Group, with additional funding from the Paul J. Ruhnke Memorial Fund, the Howard and Carole Tanenbaum Family Charitable Foundation and Ryerson University. The exhibition is a collaboration with Autograph ABP (supported by Arts Council England) Human Rights Human Wrongs will be on view in the Ryerson Image Centre Main Gallery January 23 – April 14, 2013.

Alfredo Jaar: The Politics of Images, curated by Dr. Gaelle Morel, exhibitions curator at the RIC, addresses political concerns and the relationship between ethics and aesthetics. The Chilean- born, New York-based, artist highlights ignored contemporary tragedies such as genocides, epidemics, and famines, to promote cultural change. In his works Searching for Africa in Life (1996) and From Time to Time (2006), Jaar displays covers of news magazines to analyze the lack of visibility and the visual cliche?s about Africa disseminated in Western culture. The artist’s three-channel video We Wish to Inform You That We Didn’t Know (2010), his most recent project on the genocide in Rwanda, acts as an epilogue to The Rwanda Project, 1994-2000, a series of twenty-five artworks developed to critique the world’s indifference and inaction to that mass murder. Alfredo Jaar: The Politics of Images will be on view in the Ryerson Image Centre University Gallery January 23 – April 14, 2013.

Clive Holden asks, “Is it un-American to be un-famous? Are Americans failures if they die without fame?” Drawing from the Black Star Collection at Ryerson University, he creates UnAmerican Unfamous using the “un-famous” as an organizing principle in his selection of one hundred image details and faces. Plucked from obscurity, these people can be found in the backgrounds of famous photographs, or simply hidden in the depths of a photographic archive. At times they are literally seen over the shoulders of celebrities in the iconic photographs that capture the “American Century”. The work’s media tile construction is made with a hybrid adaptation of photographic, cinematic, and web tools. It also uses film leader as raw material (the beginning and end pieces of film reels). With a complex series of randomizing algorithms, these film loops are juxtaposed and continually remixed with the “unsung human leaders” found in the Black Star Collection, as well as with photographs of local un-famous un-Americans nominated by members of the public. The work will evolve over the course of the exhibition as community-nominated images are added. People are invited to nominate a photograph of someone who is both un- American and unjustly un-famous for inclusion in UnAmerican Unfamous. Nominations will be accepted until March 15th, 2013. Details are online at Clive Holden: UnAmerican Unfamous is curated by Dr. Gaelle Morel, and will be on view on the Ryerson Image Centre’s Salah J. Bachir New Media Wall January 23 – April 14, 2013.

Captive State is an exhibition of photographs taken by Dominic Nahr during two trips to Somalia. In August 2011, Nahr traveled to Mogadishu with Alex Perry (TIME’s Africa Bureau Chief) to document the famine in Southern Somalia. They found overwhelming suffering and death; approximately 150,000 of the 2.8 million Somalis affected eventually starved to death. Almost as appalling was the knowledge that a US anti-terrorism policy unwittingly blocked aid to the famine areas for years. Perry writes, “If drought set the conditions for last year’s famine in East Africa, it was man who ensured it.” When Nahr and Perry returned to Mogadishu the following year, the improvements were tangible, but as Perry states, “If Mogadishu was enjoying its longest sustained peace in 21 years of civil war, you couldn’t mistake that for a return to normality.” A TIME Contract Photographer and Magnum Photos Nominee, Dominic Nahr graduated from the photography program at Ryerson University in 2008. Dominic Nahr: Captive State will be on view in the Ryerson Image Centre’s Student Gallery January 23 – March 10, 2013.

To complement public gallery exhibitions, the Ryerson Image Centre presents tours, panel discussions, curator talks and other events. The first is a Kodak Lecture by Human Rights Human Wrongs Curator Mark Sealy entitled The Organ That Weeps. Photography and Violence. Sealy argues that the early use of photography by those who adhered to European ideologies of the mid-nineteenth century, helped establish a hierarchical world-view that shrouded otherness in violence and created the conditions for photographic practices that normalized the violent and debasing treatment of those who were seen as inferior and outside of Western history. The Kodak Lecture will take place on Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, LIB-72. Presented by the Ryerson Image Centre and the Ryerson University School of Image Arts.

These exhibitions have been financially assisted by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.

January 23 – April 14, 2013
Human Rights Human Wrongs
Curator: Mark Sealy
Main Gallery at the Ryerson Image Centre

Alfredo Jaar: The Politics of Images
Curator: Dr. Gae?lle Morel
University Gallery at the Ryerson Image Centre

Clive Holden: UnAmerican Unfamous
Curator: Gae?lle Morel
Salah J. Bachir New Media Wall at the Ryerson Image Centre

January 23 – March 10, 2013
Dominic Nahr: Captive State
Student Gallery at the Ryerson Image Centre

Thursday, January 24, 2013 7:00 p.m.
Kodak Lecture: Mark Sealy The Organ That Weeps. Photography and Violence
Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, LIB-72