Utopia/Dystopia Construction and Destruction in Photography and Collage Yasufumi Nakamori, Graham Bader

Publication date:
24 Apr 2012
Museum Fine Arts Houston
116 pages: 241 x 203mm
45 color illus.

From the time of its invention, photography has enabled artists not only to capture the world around them but also to create worlds of their own. Utopia/Dystopia investigates how artists from the late 19th century to the present have used photographic fragments or techniques to represent political, social, or cultural states of utopia or dystopia. Artists have employed a number of strategies to this end, such as cutting, fragmenting, and puncturing images as well as reassembling those culled from ready-made materials or giving a subject multiple exposures. The resulting photographs, photocollages, photomontages, and other creations question the validity of seamless pictorial images, and attempt to dismantle the notion of photography as an objective medium. Artists from around the world, such as Herbert Bayer, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, John Heartfield, Hannah Hoch, Arata Isozaki, El Lissitzky, Carter Mull, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Vik Muniz, Walid Raad, Man Ray, Okanoue Toshiko, Anita Witek, and many others, have used such strategies.

This publication draws on approximately fifty exemplary works by these artists, thirty-five of which will be illustrated in a plate section. Scholarly essays examine these works from various perspectives, offering new ways of thinking about photography's uses and implications.

Yasufumi Nakamori is associate curator of photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Graham Bader is Mellon Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History at Rice University.

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