(HUDSON, N.Y.) – “Just the Facts,” the second annual LightField Festival of Photography & Multimedia Art, returns to Hudson Hall now through September 30, with an exhibition, artist talks, film screenings, workshops, and a panel discussion.
Curated by Anna Van Lenten, LightField’s founding director, “Just the Facts” features photography and video work by six distinguished artists – Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Brenda Kenneally, Phyllis B. Dooney, Stacy Kranitz, Zoe Strauss, and Masterji — plus a screening of “Canners” by documentary director Manfred Kirchheimer.
The exhibition delves into the lives of working class people who struggle daily to keep their dignity in a social landscape that is increasingly hostile to immigrants and the working poor. The festival looks past common stereotypes to show how marginalized people, largely invisible to mainstream culture, have been left behind by technology and globalization.
“Just the Facts” opens on August 12 with a reception to honor the young women of LightField’s free, three-day Young Photographers Workshop, and with an artist talk by Stacy Kranitz and Zoe Strauss. LightField Festival runs through September 30 on the first-floor spaces of Hudson Hall at the historic Hudson Opera House. For more information, visit Hudson Hall or LightField, or call Hudson Hall at (518) 822- 1438.
“Just the Facts” features artists whose deep immersion with their subjects yields complex portraits of communities in times of struggle and strength. Brenda Kenneally’s Upstate Girls, a visceral, controversial, long-form portrait series, covers twelve years in the lives of young women from Troy, N.Y., a former powerhouse of industry. The families in her pictures live within limited means and are all connected to one another. Her work amounts to a ground-up historic record of our contemporary social and political values.
Maganbhai Patel, better known as Masterji, spent 50 years photographing his South-Asian immigrant community in Coventry, England, giving his fellow migrants status and a right to physical space to claim as their own. In doing so, his subjects are not portrayed as invisible and poor, but confident, smart and full of potential. A selection of Masterji’s five decade-spanning body of work — colorful, oftentimes humorous — will be exhibited for the first time in America as part of this year’s LightField Festival.
Artists Stacy Kranitz and Zoe Strauss have collaborated to create a site-specific installation entitled The Great Divide, which seeks to question how images of disenfranchisement are traditionally displayed. At a time when American opinions and perceptions are polarized and entrenched, the artists re-frame what it means to be marginalized in American society.
Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, born in England, raised in India and now living in the U.S., describes herself as “transcultural, living between cultures.” Her photographs and videos juxtapose identities with geographies to reframe our notions of who is native and who is immigrant.
Phyllis B. Dooney’s “Gravity is Stronger Here” is a creative nonfiction montage consisting of her photographs and docu-poems by Jardine Libaire. In 2011, Dooney started this five-year project in Greenville, Miss., focusing in particular on Halea Brown and her dynamic Southern American family. Gravity is Stronger Here is extended by multimedia components online and published as a book, and was awarded Honorable Mention by The Center for Documentary Studies’ Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize in 2016.
Director Manfred Kirchheimer’s deeply humane film “Canners” is an ode to the men and women who earn their daily bread diligently collecting New York City’s bottles and cans. They talk to Kirchheimer about their struggles, their families, and their dreams, never straying too far from this film’s abiding subject, survival in the city. “The can collectors trust him, which means that, through the wonderful alchemy of cinema, it feels as if they trust you…. A testament to its director’s indefatigable humanism.” – A. O. Scott, The New York Times.
Hudson Hall Executive Director Gary Schiro welcomes the return of the annual festival to Hudson. “We are thrilled to once again have the opportunity to host LightField Festival and the stunning array of local and international talent they champion. ‘Just the Facts’ shines a light on important themes relevant to our own community in a way that encourages exploration, thought and debate – exactly the kind of activity that has historically taken place in this building since it opened in 1855.”
SCHEDULE of EVENTS
Saturday, August 12 at 5pm
Opening Reception: Young Photographers Workshop Celebration & Artist Talk with Stacy Kranitz and Zoe Strauss
Saturday, August 26 at 5pm
Artist talk: Brenda Kenneally with TIME’s Deputy Photo Editor, Paul Moakley, and Linda Tirado, author of Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America
September 2 at 7pm
Screening: Canners (2017)
Directed by Manfred Kirchheimer, 76 minutes
Tickets: $10 suggested donation to benefit LightField; reservations encouraged
September 9 at 5pm
Women Picturing Revolution in conversation with Catherine Morris, organizer of We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85, Senior Curator for the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Brooklyn Museum
at the historic Hudson Opera House
327 Warren Street
Hudson, NY 12534
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Annu Palakunnathu Matthew’s photographic work addresses the political, social, and transformative issues stemming from her own experience of living between three cultures. Recent solo exhibitions include the Royal Ontario Museum, Nuit Blanche Toronto 2015 and sepiaEYE, New York City. Other exhibitions include the RISD Museum, Newark Art Museum, Tang Museum and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and 2016’s Crosslines at the Smithsonian Museum of Art & Industries. Matthew is Professor of Art (Photography,) the Director of the Center for the Humanities and the 2015-17 Silvia-Chandley Professor of Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island and is represented by sepiaEYE, New York City, and Tasveer Gallery, India.
Brenda Kenneally is a multi-platform documentary maker, Guggenheim Fellow, Pulitzer Prize nominee, and formerly incarcerated youth. Brenda’s videos and still photos cover twelve years in the lives of young women from Troy, NY, a former powerhouse of industry. Kenneally’s obsession with capturing a core truth of the people she photographs earned her The W. Eugene Smith Award in 2000. Her forthcoming book, Upstate Girls: An Intimate Portrait of Troy, New York, will be out in November 2017, and adds another significant piece to her long-term, intimate portraits of social issues that intersect where the personal is political.
Phyllis B. Dooney is a social documentary photographer and visual storyteller. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Feature Shoot, American Photo, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Prison Photography and elsewhere online and in print. Dooney was awarded first place for The Center’s Editor’s Choice Prize in 2015. In 2016 she was a Screen Projects mentee and was highlighted in the 4th annual New York Times portfolio review.
Stacy Kranitz was born in Kentucky and received a BFA from New York University and an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. Her work has been featured in publications including Adbusters, Elle, Granta, Mother Jones, New York Times Magazine, Oxford American, Rolling Stone, Vice, and Wired, and focuses on history, representation and otherness within the documentary tradition.
Zoe Strauss, a 2017 Guggenheim grantee, is committed to making art accessible to her community and to facilitating social interactions through her photographs and installations. She concentrates on overlooked America, aiming her lens at those things we cannot or choose not to see. Strauss describes her work as an epic narrative, juxtaposing the beauty and struggle that coincide in everyday life. In 2012, she completed her project Under I-95, a ten-year endeavor for which she displayed photographs featuring downtrodden city dwellers, abandoned structures, and bemusing signage, etc. by affixing them to the pilasters supporting the overpass of Interstate-95 in South Philadelphia. Her chosen subjects and scenes reflect the artist’s interest in confronting and depicting life in America as a visual abstraction as well as employing the camera as a self-reflexive tool.
Maganbhai Patel, a.k.a. Masterji, is an Indian immigrant who set up a home studio in Coventry, England, and created images of astonishing immediacy. Masterji’s first exhibition opened in Coventry in November 2016 – when the artist was 94-years-old. His work paints a brilliantly evocative portrait of immigrant life in the mid-20th century and has been selected as a part of Coventry’s bid for UK City of Culture in 2021.
Director and editor Manfred Kirchheimer is best known for his films Tall: The American Skyscraper and Louis Sullivan (2006), Claw: A Fable (1968) and Spraymasters (2008). Krichheimer weds the aesthetic exuberance of modernist urban chroniclers like Walt Whitman, Joseph Stella, and Charles Mingus to the leftist populism of Studs Terkel and Jane Jacobs. His documentary (and quasi-fictional) films are intricate montages of sound and image that thrum with hard bop or proto-hip-hop energy. They are fanfares and requiems for New York’s immigrant working class and demimonde, its art and artists, buildings and builders, haves and have nots.
Established in 2016, LightField is a non-profit that showcases the work of innovative and distinguished lens-based artists through exhibits, festivals, and talks. LightField’s annual Festival at Hudson Hall is a local, rural-based photo and media arts festival within striking distance of New York City. It aims to spark discussion around the aesthetic choices documentary artists make, to evoke the power of lens-based art to spotlight social issues, and to provide a framework for discussion and debate. As well, LightField creates educational photography workshops for young people in under-served communities.
ABOUT HUDSON HALL
Hudson Hall is a cultural beacon in the Hudson Valley, offering a dynamic year-round schedule of music, theater, dance, literature, workshops for youth and adults, as well as family programs and large-scale community events such as Winter Walk. Located in an historic landmark that houses New York State’s oldest surviving theater, Hudson Hall underwent a full restoration and reopened to the public in April 2017 for the first time in over 55 years. The newly restored Hudson Hall reflects Hudson’s rich history in a modern facility that welcomes residents and visitors from throughout our local community, across the nation, and around the globe.