Vesna Pavlović’s exhibition “Fall and Folds,” on view at Atlanta’s Whitespace Gallery through July 30, represents the artist’s reflections on the institutional archives of recovered slides collected from several art history departments, including Vanderbilt.
Recognized for their brilliant color reproduction and groundbreaking presentation capability, photographic slides were fetishized by artists and educators and widely used by amateurs. Recent years have witnessed slide technology and the equipment that supported it fall into obsolescence. “Meanwhile, the ways we share images have become instantaneous and have lost their physicality,” said Pavlović, assistant professor of art in Vanderbilt’s studio art department.
Art historian Morna O’Neill (Wake Forest University) wrote, “Pavlović’s work asks fundamental questions about how individuals relate to the photographic image and how this relationship changes when it is viewed communally through projection. In so doing, she challenges us to confront the biases that inform the telling of history—–whether art’s history in the classroom or one’s own personal history in the vacation slideshow.”
The slide-related photographs and objects in the “Fall and Folds” exhibition reflect on the use of specific materials such as fabric in both art history and the exhibition design. Within the exhibition setting, the materiality of obsolete objects comes forward through the illumination and transparency of photographic slides.
In a recent art review for Burnaway, Jordan Amirkhani, visiting assistant professor of art history, University of Tennessee Chattanooga, described the “rich relationship between image, time, and event that remains one of the most significant themes of Vesna Pavlović’s work, and it is exciting to see how, with each presentation of her work, that theme is renewed and reconfigured.”
While the title of the exhibition, “Fall and Folds,” points to the ways in which fabric is used as a kind of connective tissue to hold certain parts of the exhibition’s narrative together, the title also resonates with the “fall and folding” of the slide collection within institutions more generally. “As I left,” wrote Amirkhani, “I wondered about the insertion of the slide collection into histories of modern opticality, and how they might be of the past and future of the image simultaneously. Pavlović brings these questions to bear in this exhibition, presenting new explorations of the institutional archive as a site of productive critique and creation.”
In conjunction with the “Fall and Folds” exhibition, Pavlovic is presenting the Community Slide Show Event at Atlanta Contemporary as a one-night performance on July 28. From academic art departments to personal collections, photographic slides are often unused or abandoned. Community Slide Show is an opportunity to reactivate old technology in an environment of examination and introduction. Each archive offers a personal history, with a narrative as distinct as the individuals behind the pictures. Within an installation setting, audience members are able to share their personal histories, as well as sort through and project slides available within the installation.