An exhibition of photographs by CDS Photography and Digital Arts Associate Harlan Campbell is on view now at the NC School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) as part of their Fine Arts Series. A Few Photos I Made Last Week, featuring works taken using multiple formats over seven days, will be on view in the school’s ETC Auditorium Lobby through June 1, 2017. Campbell has been selected as a Visiting Artist at NCSSM for the Spring 2017 semester.
Below, an excerpt from Campbell’s artist statement explains the conceptual impetus of the project:
What can you accomplish photographically if you give yourself just one week? When I accepted the position of Visiting Artist at the NCSSM this spring, I was given the honor of also having a concurrent exhibition. Looking back at twenty-four years of my photographic work, it was difficult deciding what to include and it became clear that what I really wanted to do was push myself to create new work. I decided to give myself one week—the week before the show would open—to produce as much as possible, using many different processes, including 35 mm, medium format, and large format film; handmade 4×5″ gelatin dry plate glass negatives; wet plate collodion (tintype); and pinhole, digital, and cell phone cameras.
While photographing places and people encountered in my normal routine—in the back yard, in downtown Durham, and at work at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University—a visual document of the week began to emerge. This exhibit is a selection of the images that stood out.
Through February 18, 2017, the Power Plant Gallery presents Soundings: Protest|Politics|Dissent, a broadcast audio exhibition exploring how artists navigate the depths of sound experience and embody protest, politics, and dissent in digital sound files. A special lunchtime talk will be held on February 2 as part of an ongoing series of panel discussions about art and activism cosponsored by Duke University’s Forum for Scholars and Publics. The panel discussion, entitled “FSP@PPG: Hostile Sounds,” will feature Christopher DeLaurenti, a sound artist who is also featured in the Soundings exhibition. Below, Power Plant Gallery Director Caitlin Kelly recounts DeLaurenti’s enlivening experiences collecting audio.
Following My Microphone
Christopher DeLaurenti follows his microphone. It has lead him into unusual confluences of sound, silence, music, and speech. Most recently he followed it to the Presidential Inauguration and the subsequent Women’s March on Washington. “While recording, I felt every emotion I have ever had,” DeLaurenti explains. Microphone in hand, DeLaurenti trolled the environment before, during and after the Inauguration recording the interstitial soundscape of chants, yells, music and the typical urban sounds of passing cars and conversation.
Back in the streets the following day, DeLaurenti describes The Women’s March on Washington as a massive wall of sound with chants surging and echoing. “I heard a raft of inspiring chants and verbal volleys,” DeLaurenti says, “such as ‘Not my President!’ as well as women declaring ‘My body my choice!’ in tandem with men responding ‘her body, her choice!’ What remains is joy—joy that I heard so much, joy that I instinctively ran towards things to hear while others ran the opposite direction.”
“To borrow a phrase from R. Murray Schafer, this ‘soniferous garden’ of voices reminded me that sound not only consolidates us as people, but also proposes utopian possibilities.”
DeLaurenti, along with Tina Haver Currin, Jess Dilday, and Rodrigo Dorfmnn, will be part of a panel discussion on arts activism and sound, called, “FSP@PPG: Hostile Sounds” on Thursday, February 2, 2017, from 12–1:15 p.m. This is the third installment of the arts and activism panel discussions with the Forum for Scholars and Publics and the Power Plant Gallery. A light lunch will be served. The Power Plant Gallery is a joint initiative of Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies and MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts program.
Through February 18, 2017, the Power Plant Gallery presents Soundings: Protest|Politics|Dissent, a broadcast audio exhibition exploring how artists navigate the depths of sound experience and embody protest, politics, and dissent in digital sound files. As part of the exhibition, a special Third Friday Durham Listening Session will be held on February 17, featuring works curated by filmmaker, sound artist, and MFA|EDA alumni Mendal Polish. Below, Polish reflects on the process of selecting pieces for the listening session, entitled “The Body and Queer Listening,” on the heels of a challenging year.
A Sounding: The Body and Queer Listening by Mendal Polish
This year in review is harrowing and painful to even reflect upon, though it is also a synthesis of stories about healing, resilience, and survival. This is where we begin. More than ever in my lifetime, it has felt like a necessary moment to bring queer artists together to celebrate our lives, to grieve, to honor where and who we come from as individuals and an intersectional people.
This installation of sounds and stories opens with a calling in of our queer ancestors honoring them while asking for guidance as we embark on this new and ever changing world. Their legacies of resistance and creative vision have provided survival and guidance for so many of us. In times of disproportionate loss, not only is it important to look towards them, but to look around us at each other, as we navigate and find ways to thrive. We are called to create mentors of our peers while planning for the next chapter in our world and finding new forms of magic in the evolution of our authentic selves.
As I sorted through the tumult of the year in review, I began investigating survival in new ways by looking at the staggering number of queer friends and community members who struggle with under-diagnosed autoimmune disorders, not to mention some of the ancestors who while in body fought to stay alive and keep creating in the midst of catastrophic illness. The opening piece provides an investigation of illness in the queer community, specifically focusing on Lyme disease. It touches upon ancestral memory, community imagination of healing, and information gathering, especially when an illness is so misunderstood and misdiagnosed by the mainstream medical field. This is about looking towards each other for healing, answers, and resources. This piece has taken on many incarnations and was put on hold many times throughout its course; still, I am making dramatic changes to it as we come up against the exhibit.
Some additional notes on curation: I am lucky to live amidst an abundance of imaginative and visionary queer community. I started asking specific artists in my life to make pieces based on their family structures, relationships to families of origin, connections to various political struggles, intersectionality, and reflections about the current moment. I found that people wanted outlets for their stories that were maybe mediums different than the ones they usually chose. Audio is so specific and, in some ways, very intimate. It gives us opportunities to close our eyes and be with each other in the dark, engaging different senses then we might be used to.
This past year, we were faced with the tragedy of the massacre at the Orlando nightclub Pulse. On that fateful July morning, so many of us woke up to columns of clubgoer’s faces in the national papers and online, dozens of friends and queer family members who most of us had never met and now never will; we couldn’t look away. The travesty deepened as Islamaphobic backlash became the media’s reactionary ruse.
A dear friend of mine who is a musician wrote and recorded a song called “Bombs Away” that morning. It was based specifically on the account of one young person who was texting his mother from the bathroom stall in his last moments of terror. The song is raw, as my friend, Owen’s, grief overtakes him near the middle of the recording. I have carried it with me in my own grief and wanted to create a piece around it. Orlando shook a lot up and brought the sacred space of the gay bar into the public sphere. So many of our queer stories start on loud dance floors in bars, not unlike Pulse, all over the country. Those spaces have been our sanctuaries, the places where we learn how to find each other and build culture, flirt, release, hook up, and celebrate our lives. These places, noting the Stonewall Inn in New York City in the 60’s, were not always safe. Something that became more and more true since the uprising at Stonewall, however, is that there is safety in numbers. The way we come together to mourn this breach in safety, as at Pulse, is how we maintain our legacies of queer resilience. To honor the victims and survivors of Pulse, I wanted to create a piece with Owen that both celebrates the legacy of gay bars and queer spaces and also responds to that horrifying tragedy. We started the piece by interviewing folks about their first gay bar experiences and then we move to the morning following the mass shooting.
Another artist, Nova McGiffert created a piece using hilarious voice mail messages from her late grandmother. This work has a tenderness that shows love and acceptance from her family of origin, while also providing some levity based on this fairly mainstream elder’s understanding of her queer granddaughter’s potential whereabouts when she isn’t answering her phone.
There are ten artists that will be featured in the compilation of work, accessing a variety of tones and interpretations of the medium. I would like to see the listening event at the Power Plant Gallery as a first run of the installation and continue to build on the project.
To pull from the Story Corps motto, “listening is an act of love.” I welcome you into this world that we’ve created, and if nothing else, I hope it inspires you to tell stories as an act of healing and resistance, to listen harder to the world around you and the people, places, and communities that you love.
Over the course of six evenings in September and October of 2016, photographer and filmmaker Hal Goodtree brought eight CDS Continuing Education students out into the streets of Durham to learn Documentary Night Photography. They learned all about shooting in low light, then reviewed their work in group sessions each week. See a slideshow of their work below.
Goodtree describes the process: “As the instructor for Documentary Night Photography, I wanted students to advance both their technical skills and their aesthetic awareness. This year, I added a review of student work to every class, giving me insight into individual strengths and weaknesses. Also this year, I started showing my own photographic ‘mistakes’ to illustrate certain points, lowering student anxiety about experimentation and notions of personal success or failure.
“On the street, I hunted up class members, getting them to show me some work and discussing issues which were confounding them. One student had chronic trouble tightening up the tripod; another had AF turned off and wondered why the photos were out of focus. Almost everyone had trouble with color temperature at night. Finally, I put some effort into taking pictures of the class at work on the street. This proved a popular and contagious pursuit. By the last class, everyone was taking pictures of everyone else, providing some grounding in portraiture at night, a welcome relief from cityscapes and abstracts.
“It was thrilling to watch the student work progress in sophistication from the first class to the last.”
The Center for Documentary Studies is among the cosponsors for a Duke Performances artist residency at Duke University hosting The Civilians, the nation’s foremost investigative theater company. The New York-based theater company will return to Duke for a residency from January 19-29, 2017, conducting research and interviews for a new play about charter schools written by playwright Ethan Lipton and directed by Steve Cosson. The previous residency in Fall 2016 featured artist talks and classroom conversations with Steve Cosson, the theater group’s creative director, as well as performances of The Undertaking, a creatively staged investigation of death written by Cosson.
In addition to classroom conversations and workshops with CDS, MFA|EDA, and other Duke students, the 2017 residency will enable The Civilians to take on a unique documentary theater project, focusing on the impact of charter schools in North Carolina as a way to explore the privatization of US public education. The company will interview students, educators, parents, and administrators at both charter schools and public schools, as well as education policy experts, activists, and organizers. A culminating workshop reading, to be held on Duke’s campus, will offer a dramatized first look at some of the research gathered, and a glimpse of what the project will eventually become. This is a rare opportunity to engage with theater-makers as they construct a piece from the ground up — all while grappling with one of the biggest issues of our time.
Ethan Lipton writes, “I’m thrilled to be working with the Civilians on a theater piece that explores charters and the privatization of US public education. I’m especially excited to be doing this at Duke, and that we won’t just be bringing research to North Carolina — we’re actually doing the research there, making a piece with North Carolinian DNA that we will develop at a North Carolinian institution. I’m passionate about education and can’t wait to see what we learn. I’m also excited to share with Duke and its audience our creative processes—I say ours because I have my process, and Steve Cosson and the Civilians have theirs, and this is the first time we’re working together. We’re going to be building this thing from the ground up, and it should be a fascinating opportunity for all of us.”
This residency is made possible by Duke Performances, with support from the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts and the Council for the Arts Visiting Artists Program, as well as the Department of Theater Studies and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
On December 13, 2016, the website for the SNCC Digital Gateway: Learn from the Past, Organize for the Future, Make Democracy Work—a collaborative documentary initiative between the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Duke University—debuted. The documentary website is the product of collaboration between the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, the SNCC Legacy Project, and Duke Libraries. The SNCC Digital Gateway tells the story of how young activists in SNCC united with local people in the 1960s Deep South to build a grassroots movement for change that empowered the Black community and transformed the nation.
In 2013, the SNCC Legacy Project (SLP) and Duke University formed a partnership to chronicle the historic struggles for voting rights and to develop ongoing programs that contribute to a more civil and inclusive democracy in the 21st century. SNCC veterans shaped the vision and framework of the SNCC Digital Gateway, and the website was made possible by the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. They worked collaboratively with historians of the Movement, archivists, and students to weave together grassroots stories, digitized primary source materials, and new multimedia productions to bring this history—and its enduring legacy—to life for a new generation.
Using documentary footage, audio recordings, photographs, and documents, the site portrays how SNCC organizers, alongside thousands of local Black residents, worked so that Black people could take control of their lives. It unveils the inner workings of SNCC as an organization, examining how it coordinated sit-ins and freedom schools, voter registration and economic cooperatives, anti-draft protests and international solidarity struggles. The story of the Movement told on this website is one of unsung heroes: domestic workers and sharecroppers, young organizers and seasoned mentors, World War II veterans and high school students. The SNCC Digital Gateway is here to share their story—and to help continue their legacy of organizing for self-determination and democracy in the generations to come. We feel certain that the site not only provides an unprecedented and valuable window onto past civil rights struggles, but a valuable tool for all those interested in social change today.
In this new documentary website, you’ll find:
The SNCC Digital Gateway is a work in progress. It will continue to gain stories and fill out its content in the year to come.
Founded on the spirit, values, and actions of photographer Lewis Hine, the Lewis Hine Documentary Fellows Program at the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) connects the talents of young documentary artists with the resources and needs of community-based organizations in the United States. Fellows focus primarily on issues of socially and economically marginalized children, adolescents, young adults, their families, and communities; develop collaborative projects with those individuals and communities; and explore the role of documentary work in effecting social change.
In the latest blog post from Lookout: Notes from the Lewis Hine Documentary Fellows Program, 2016-2017 Hine Fellow Jenny Stratton shares impressions and reflections from her first few months working with Children’s Aid and Family Services of New Jersey.
“During this first month,” writes Stratton, “I have been thinking about the nature of trauma-informed photography and storytelling; how photography can be used to translate the complexities and dualities inherent in traumatic situations; how shared vulnerability has the power to produce strength. Lewis Hine defined a good photograph as ‘a reproduction of impressions made upon the photographer which he desires to repeat to others.’ I think about how impressions here might echo.”
Read the full blog post from Jenny Stratton here.
The Center for Documentary Studies offers Continuing Education classes year-round—in photography, video, audio, narrative writing, and other creative media. Registration is now open for Spring 2017 classes and workshops with a host of established, new, and online classes on offer, including a few hybrid on-site/online classes.
A complete listing of all Spring 2017 courses as well as registration information can be found here.
Classes set to begin in early January include Writing, Funding, and Legalese as well as The South in Black and White, among others. A number of new classes will be debuted this term, including Intro Seminar: Traditions, which examines traditions of documentary work through an interdisciplinary lens, and Podcasting for the People, a new class that will help students to conceptualize, create, and develop their own podcast.
Opening December 5, Center for Documentary Studies will host an exhibition of photographs from Post Mégantic, Michel Huneault’s 2015 Lange-Taylor prizewinning project on a small town in Quebec that was the site of Canada’s deadliest train disaster in 150 years. His project of remembrance garnered Huneault CDS’s prestigious Lange-Taylor Prize in 2015; the $10,000 annual award supports documentary artists involved in ongoing fieldwork projects that rely on both words and images. Click here for more information on the exhibition.
A meditation on loss and mourning, Post Mégantic incorporates photographs, videos, oral histories, and installations to tell the story of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, where on the night of July 6, 2013, a cargo train from North Dakota carrying nearly 8 million liters of shale oil derailed and exploded, killing 47 people and effectively destroying the town. From a population of 6,000, one out of every 128 citizens died. The explosion leveled most of the town center, creating a 400-meter-wide area that is still inaccessible.
Huneault describes Post Mégantic as a “requiem to the victims,” a documentary narrative about life, death, the fragility of existence that he hopes will evoke for viewers of the work a “visceral sense of empathy, an appreciation based on introspection, imagination, and compassion.” His collaboration with the people and town of Lac-Mégantic will continue, as he returns “hopefully to find more light and healing.”
More information on Michel Huneault and Post Mégantic, including a slideshow and short video
Along with other North Carolina podcasters, CDS audio director John Biewen will take the stage in Durham on December 1 for an evening of live performance, storytelling, and advice-giving. Biewen will represent Scene On Radio, the podcast from CDS that he created and hosts; Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer of Criminal, Anita Rao and Sandra Davidson of She & Her, and Steven Petrow of The Civilist will also take the stage to share their stories of documenting the untold, unexpected, inane, and profound, and to engage the audience in a dynamic conversation about podcasting and audio storytelling. *For those unable to attend the event, watch a live stream of the full event on the Center for Documentary Studies Facebook page beginning at 7 p.m.
Are You Listening? Four Triangle Podcasters Take The Stage
Thursday, December 1, 7 p.m.
Motorco Music Hall, Seated Show
723 Rigsbee Avenue, Durham, North Carolina
Free Tickets** | Directions | Parking | Live Stream*
*Please note that while tickets to this event are free, attendees are encouraged to RESERVE A TICKET in advance. Attendees with reserved tickets must show up 30 minutes in advance of the show to secure reserved seating. At 6:30 p.m., any unclaimed seats will be made available to the general public.