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Utopia and Dystopia in Houston, Texas

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston explores 150 years of utopian and dystopian visions at FotoFest 2012
David Dupuis, Looking for Magick in the Age of Suck (2008),
colour pencil and collage on paper, courtesy of the artist and Derek Eller Gallery, NY


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While Photoshop might be used to create a realistic but ultimately untrue impression of our world, the relatively basic technique of collage has been harnessed to create some of the most unimaginably outlandish and fantastical visions that arguably present an altogether more honest statement from the creator. Instead of a polished, perfect view, the cut-and-paste technique creates far-out portraits of beautifully bizarre dreams and occasionally warped incarnations of our most terrible fears.

To coincide with FotoFest 2012 (March 16 - April 29), Yasufumi Nakamori, associate photography curator at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, presents visions of utopian possibilities and their nightmarish dystopian alternates explored through photography and collage. In over 100 works from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe that span 150 years, the exhibition is a comprehensive exploration of this complex and rich tradition.

“In breaking and reassembling found images to create a new vision, artists have found collage and montage ideal for expressing utopian dreams and dystopian anxieties,” Nakamori says. "We wanted to look at the way artists use photography as a medium to imagine other worlds," he adds. 

Graham Bader, the Mellon Assistant Professor of art history at Rice University, whose essay accompanies the exhibition, writes:

“From Berlin Dada to Paris Surrealism, these artists reconfigured photographic fragments to demonstrate the deeper truths such assemblages revealed ... and to imagine, through their acts of cutting and pasting, alternative realities in both the present and future.”

The exhibition continues at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston until June 10, 2012. Look through our gallery above to see images from the exhibition.






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