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'Consciously Surreal: Photography, the Uncanny, and the Body' Now at at the Palmer Museum of Art

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Jerry Uelsmann, Apocalypse II, 1967, printed c. 1971, gelatin silver print, 2011.98. © Jerry Uelsmann.

The Palmer Museum of Art will present a new exhibition, Consciously Surreal: Photography, the Uncanny, and the Body, from January 12 through May 8, 2016.

Championed as a medium capable of yielding unmediated copies of nature, photography is often believed to operate in the realm of the factual. The works on view in Consciously Surreal challenge this notion of photographic truth through the purposeful engagement of experimental techniques, fragmentation of the body, and chance encounters. Either positioned on the periphery of Surrealism or working well beyond the movement’s heyday, the artists highlighted in this exhibition nonetheless engage with surrealist concerns in a variety of ways.

Works by David Teplica, Robert Heinecken, and Manuel Alvarez Bravo duplicate, crop, and frame the body in such a way that denies its status as a unified whole, echoing the Surrealists’ preoccupation with deconstructing and reconfiguring the human form. In merging the fantastic with the banal, documentary photographers Walker Evans and Frank Paulin faithfully record incidences of the uncanny in rural America and the streets of New York respectively. Not afraid to experiment in the darkroom, Jerry Uelsmann and Bernard Siegel combine, overlap, and overexpose negatives as a means to arrive at both landscape and portrait images that are rather unexpected.  

Other photographers represented in the exhibition include Gail Chase, Konrad Cramer, Adam Fuss, David Graham, Ann Hamilton, Barbara Morgan, Alexander Rodchenko, and Joel-Peter Witkin.

EXHIBITION-RELATED EVENTS 

Keri Mongelluzzo, graduate student, art history, will lead a Gallery Talk titled Consciously Surreal: Photography, the Uncanny, and the Body on Friday, January 22, at 12:10 p.m. in the exhibition gallery.

Jonathan Eburne, associate professor of comparative literature and English, and Amy Dupain Vashaw, audience and program development coordinator, Center for the Performing Arts, curated Surreal Cinema Series: A Thematic Approach to Film, in conjunction with Consciously Surreal: Photography, the Uncanny, and the Body and From Dada to Dalí: Surrealist Works on Paper, and will present Pioneers of Experimental Films on Thursday, February 11, at 7:00 p.m.; Experimental Short Films by Women on Thursday, February 18, at 7:00 p.m.; and Art Films of the 1960s and 1970s on Thursday, February 25, at 7:00 p.m. in the Palmer Lipcon Auditorium. Films are appropriate for mature audiences.

Jonathan Eburne, associate professor of comparative literature and English, will lead a Perspectives Unbound Gallery Talk titled Surrealism on Paper on Friday, April 8, at 12:10 p.m.

Susan Hirth, docent, will lead a Docent Choice Tour titled Surrealism in Works on Paper on Sunday, April 24, at 2:00 p.m. beginning in the Christoffers Lobby. Light refreshments will be served afterward and all ages are welcome.

Also on view at the Palmer Museum of Art this spring are From Dada to Dalí: Surrealist Works on Paper, January 12 through May 8, and Small Prints, Big Artists: Renaissance and Baroque Masterpieces from Carnegie Museum of Art, February 2 through May 15. Small Prints, Big Artists: Renaissance and Baroque Masterpieces from Carnegie Museum of Art was organized by Carnegie Museum of Art.

The Palmer Museum of Art at Penn State is located on Curtin Road and admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4:00 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays and some holidays. Reduced hours: Saturday, March 5, through Sunday, March 13, noon to 4:00 p.m. Closed: Sunday, March 27.

The Palmer Museum of Art receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

IMAGE: Jerry Uelsmann, Apocalypse II, 1967, printed c. 1971, gelatin silver print, 2011.98. © Jerry Uelsmann.