AMERICA IN CRISIS
Curated by Sophie Wright, Gregory Harris from Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, and LA-based photographer and academic Tara Pixley.
SAATCHI GALLERY EXPLORES DECADES OF SOCIAL CHANGE IN THE UNITED STATES WITH GROUP PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION ‘AMERICA IN CRISIS’
- Consists of 120 photographic works from 40 leading American photographers including Bruce Davidson, Kris Graves and Mary Ellen Mark
- Sets a dialogue between the original 1969 ‘America in Crisis’ groundbreaking photographic project, and today’s contemporary American photographers exploring social change in the U.S.
- Includes interactive immersive experience that explores image consumption
LONDON, UK, Tuesday 4 January 2022 – America in Crisis will bring together 40 leading American photographers and over 120 works exploring social change in the U.S from the 1960s till today. Organised by Saatchi Gallery, the exhibition is curated by Sophie Wright, Gregory Harris from Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, and LA-based photographer and academic Tara Pixley.
America in Crisis was a ground-breaking group initiative originally conceived in 1969 to assess the state of the nation. This Magnum Photos project was led by American photographer Charles Harbutt and Lee Jones, then Magnum’s New York bureau chief.
In 1970, Charles Harbutt said of the original project:“Several of us felt that the 1968 elections would be somehow special; that deeper questions for America were riding than just electing a president. I felt that the basic issue was that the traditional American self-image as learned through public schools, Hollywood movies, ads and Fourth of July speeches - the American Dream itself – was being challenged…”
The group project turned a critical eye on the U.S at a time of great social, political and cultural change, and examined key events in 1968 leading up to Nixon’s inauguration. The 2022 exhibition at Saatchi Gallery will create a dialogue between the original historical photographs from the 1969 Magnum project and new works produced five decades later, by diverse contemporary practitioners, during another tumultuous time in America.
Despite the proliferation of “fake news” in recent years, the role of photography as a means to record, and to “bear witness”, retains more relevancy today than ever before. America in Crisis explores the similarities and differences between two eras in recent American history through the photographs produced during each pivotal period. Explored within this exhibition are deeply rooted national debates concerning gun control and racial inequality, as well as topics of global impact such as the digital revolution and the climate crisis. Revisiting and updating this exhibition creates a unique dialogue between leading photographers from 1968, such as Bruce Davidson, Elliott Erwitt and Mary Ellen Mark, and the works of 2020 contemporaries, such as Kris Graves, Balazs Gardi, Zora J Murff, Sheila Pree Bright and Stacy Kranitz. The exhibition highlights the themes present in both eras, confronting the myth of American exceptionalism with the reality of current events.
Following Harbutt’s original concept, the 2022 exhibition follows the same chapter structure found in the 1969 publication. Section titles such as The Streak of Violence, The Deep Roots of Poverty and The Battle for Equality carry contemporary resonance. Bringing together these two eras of documentary photography, also provides an opportunity to consider the shifts in documentary practice and image culture that have occurred in the intervening period.
The original America in Crisis project was conceived not only as an exhibition and publication but as an experimental film and installation. In keeping with the interactive presentation of the original project, the 2022 exhibition will include an immersive and interactive installation that speaks to contemporary image consumption.
"Our crisis today is the clash between the nation’s traditional vision of itself – the American Dream – and the hard, discordant realities it lives with." - Jerry Mason and Adolph Suehsdorf, Editors of the publication America in Crisis, 1969
"What I felt about the perpetration of American anti-Black violence in 2020 was no different from how I felt about it before, and my opinions remain unchanged. The recorded deaths of Black people at the hands of white people that we have seen these last two years are nothing new in this country. Such recordings continue to serve as spectacles for consumption in the court of public opinion while the conditions under which Black people suffer remain unchanged. I understand photography as an inherently social act, which means that the objects created from the action always carry existential implications. I use photography to undermine systemic racism by encouraging a deeper reading of images and the contexts that surround them.”- Zora J Murff, Photographer
“I think a crisis to me implies a singular event or sliver in time and I feel that 2020 was a continuation. It was an expression of pain from wounds that have been festering in America since the founding of our country. Crisis doesn’t give enough breadth to the moment. It almost gives the impression that we’re weathering the storm. I have been out in the middle of it for the last few years, which probably colours my view, but I feel this goes much deeper. Journalism is what truly matters to me and photography is the medium I use to tell stories, to show people what is going on. Diversity is critical in that context. Who is the person behind the lens? We’re all individuals and we all work to be fair journalists but we do all bring our perspectives and experiences. That really matters.” - Leah Millis, Photographer
Notes to Editors
Press Preview: Thursday, 20 January 2022, 10AM-1PM
RSVP essential: www.saatchigallery.com/rsvps/aicpress
Dates and Opening Hours
Open to the public: 21 January – 3 April 2022, 10am – 6pm Wednesday - Sunday (last admission 5.00pm)
Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays until Tuesday, 2 February 2022
From £5, Concessions available; under 10s go free (T&Cs apply). Free entry for Saatchi Gallery Members.
Walk-ins welcome but pre-booking is advised. Tickets can be booked in advance online: saatchigallery.com/tickets. Tickets go sale on today, 4 January 2022.
With special thanks to Magnum Photos and exhibition designers Kummer & Hermann.
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About Saatchi Gallery
Since 1985, Saatchi Gallery has provided an innovative platform for contemporary art. Exhibitions have presented works by largely unseen young artists, or by international artists whose work has been rarely or never exhibited in the UK. This approach has made the Gallery one of the most recognised names in contemporary art. Since moving to its current 70,000 square feet space in the Duke of York’s Headquarters in Chelsea, London, the Gallery has welcomed over 10 million visitors. The Gallery hosts over 5,000 schools visits annually and has over 6 million followers on social media. In 2019 Saatchi Gallery became a charity, beginning a new chapter in its history. www.saatchigallery.com
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