Press Releases

Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art addresses the Intimacies of Distant War


Daniel Heyman, Istanbul Watercolor Series: Every Night Graner Mistreated Us/ Watercolor on paper/ 15 X 22.5 inches

NEW PALTZ -- March 2008 marks the 5th anniversary of the American-led invasion of Iraq, and Americans are attempting to come to terms with the conflict’s purpose, moral obligations, and extricating themselves from the war. Putting the current Iraqi war on view and in its context is the intention of Brian Wallace, curator for the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art who has organized the exhibition Intimacies of Distant War opening February 8 with a reception from 6-8:00 p.m. in the Alice and Horace Chandler Gallery at the museum. The exhibition will be on view through April 13, 2008. Past and current works by Lida Abdul, Leon Golub, Daniel Heyman, Mark Hogancamp, An-My Lê, Steve Mumford, Yoko Ono, and Carolee Schneemann are featured in the exhibition.

Commenting on the ghastly experience of war is not a new artistic movement. From Napoleon’s invasion of Spain (Goya); the aftermath of World War I, (Dix); the pre-WW II bombing of Guernica (Picasso), to the current affairs in Iraq and Afghanistan, artists have felt compelled to record or comment on their personal encounters with conflict or the experiences of others.

Intimacies of Distant War brings together artists from different generations who investigate the intimate emotional impact of distant conflicts in disparate but connected ways through the medium of film, photography, printmaking, painting and installation from the 1960s to the present.

In discussing his concept for the exhibition, curator Brian Wallace comments. “This exhibition is an attempt – conditional; provisional; deliberately broad in political, aesthetic, historical, and material terms – to put the current war on view and in context…The museum has the responsibility to reflect, or at least provide a forum in which people can reflect upon, current debates.”

Lida Abdul, Brick Sellers of Kabul, 2006/ Video still (video 5 min. 58 sec.)
Courtesy Galleria Giorgio Persano

Lida Abdul, based in Los Angeles and her native Kabul, Afghanistan, will exhibit her video/audio installation that depicts the daily realities – and the universal resonances – of life in the often still-violent aftermath of the wars found in and over the country – Afghanistan. Abdul poses questions about place, community and the meaning of our surroundings – suggesting alternative ways of looking at space and its cultural implications as well as the physical changes present in her home country.

Leon Golub’s urgent Mercenaries paintings from the 1970s and the small, caustic studies on canvas and board from the two years before his death in 2004 (several of each body of work are included in this exhibition) are viscerally honest and terribly beautiful. Golub is recognized for his expressive political paintings, exploring issues of war, power, violence, race, oppression, and human suffering.

Philadelphia-based artist Daniel Heyman’s print and watercolor transcript/portraits, made while the artist sat in on interviews conducted by human rights lawyers in Istanbul, Turkey, and Aman, Jordan, with individual Abu Ghraib detainees, convey the ugliest, and yet hint at the best possible, sides of human nature. For three days he sat in on interviews with victims of horrendous abuse, recording their terrible stories. During the testimonies he quickly sketched portraits of the men and occasionally women, eventually integrating the text and image. Eighteen recent works from his Istanbul and Istanbul Watercolor Series and a new book project by this Philadelphia-based artist are included in the exhibition.

Ulster County resident Mark Hogancamp will be exhibiting photographs of his obsessively detailed scale-model set-piece narratives relating to war and his personal experiences. The images are psychologically intense, extremely anachronistic, and compellingly real, despite their blatant artificiality. The exhibition includes five 20-print series from Marwencol created during the past five years that document what the artist characterizes as episodes from a long-running story.

Vietnam-born, New York-based artist An-My Lê’s maintains an apparent emotional and formal distance from the subjects of her photographs and a two-channel film installation. In 29 Palms Marines train in a film-set familiar southern California landscape, with fake Iraqi villages and anti-American graffiti scrawled on wall surfaces, in preparation for the conflict in the Middle East and the next war.

Steve Mumford made numerous trips from New York City to Iraq during the beginning and middle stages of the current conflict, during some of that country’s most dangerous times. During his stays, Mumford completed hundreds of watercolor sketches of soldiers and Iraqis at work and at rest and has posted them on the Artnet website along with his commentaries about the trips. The exhibition includes a suite of 10 of these works.

Yoko Ono’s simple $1.00 multiple – a small pin bearing the text Imagine Peace – presupposes intimacy in its very form at the same time that it turns the wearer into a walking public statement – a statement that, harkening back to past activist practices but referring directly to the current war, contains rich ambiguities of intention and signification. Ono, based in New York, is working with Printed Matter, also in New York, and the SDMA to supply buttons for all visitors during the exhibition.

New Paltz, New York artist Carolee Schneemann in 1967 made the film Viet-Flakes. Like much of her other work produced during her 40-year career, the film is a raging assault upon and a deft analysis of the personal and political positions that we have to decide, constantly, to adhere to or abandon. Viet Flakes is composed from an obsessive collection of Vietnam War images, compiled over five years from foreign magazines and newspapers. Broken rhythms and visual fractures in the film are heightened by a sound collage by James Tenney of Vietnamese religious chants, secular songs, fragments of Bach and 60s pop hits.

A Conversation
Exhibiting artist Daniel Heyman and human rights attorney Susan Burke, will give a talk about their experiences working with detainees and other victims of violence in Iraq on Monday, March 3 at 7:00 p.m. in Lecture Center 108. Intimacies of Distant War will be open to the public just prior to the talk from 5 - 6:50 p.m.

Curator’s Talk
Brian Wallace, curator for the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art and organizer for Intimacies of Distant War, will give a gallery talk about the concept for the exhibition and the works in the show on Monday, March 11 at 7 p.m. at the SDMA.

About the Museum -
The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art is dedicated to collecting, researching, interpreting, and exhibiting works of art from diverse cultures. The permanent collection spans a period of almost 4,000 years. Areas of specialization include 20th century paintings and works on paper, Asian and Pre-Columbian art and artifacts, metals and photographs. SDMA has a special commitment to collecting and exhibiting important works of art created by artists who have lived and worked in the Hudson Valley and Catskill regions. The Museum is a major cultural resource in the Hudson Valley serving a broad-based constituency from both on and beyond the New Paltz campus.

Hours: Tuesday - Friday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
Admission is free
Wheelchair accessible
(845) 257-3844

If you are a person with a disability who will require special accommodations please contact Amy Pickering at 845.257.3844
no later than one week before the event.