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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Defaced: A Found Archive allows artist and viewers to talk back:

    Virtually everyone  has at some time encountered a  public object that has been defaced. Chances are you have probably seen something that made you angry, or at least surprised. Coriana Close’s exhibition “”Defaced: A Found Archive”” treats these defacements in a unique way — empowering not the vandals, but rather the onlookers.

    “”It’s interesting that a person would spend so much time writing in a book, then close it up, and then put it back in the stacks,”” said Close, an MFA student in photography.

    Close has found thousands of defaced pages in books at the UA Main Library and has compiled drawings and comments from one supposed individual for her exhibition at the Student Union Gallery. The collection features scanned images from pages of defaced books, whose original content mainly focuses on black history and the Civil Rights Movement. The exhibition also features defacedart books, portrait studies and other texts.

    The defacements on display often involve derogatory remarks about black people, particularly women, but range from misogyny to homophobia to anti-Semitism. The graphic and offensive nature of these comments is shocking but the exhibit is intended to transform such hate speech.

    In the library, readers “”have to confront it on their own, alone in the stacks,”” Close said. “”They find this thing that’s just threatening; it’s scary, it’s intimidating. … I think that when you put it up and put it out in the open and have a whole group of people looking at it together, then it loses that power of intimidation.””

    Close has succeeded in changing this powerfully threatening work by one individual into a reflection of society as a whole for her audience.

    “”I think in general, issues of racism and misogyny are still very much alive,”” said Holly Brown, the curator of the Union Galleries. “”This is a way to bring it out in the open and have a conversation, and deal with it in a more public and uplifting manner.””

    Close has created a guest comment section where viewers can comment on the exhibitand write their own responses on select copied pages of the exhibition in response to the defacing. These writings from visitors will eventually become part of the permanent archive.

    Close said she wants the exhibit to start a conversation and to encourage people to question their own values.

    “”I want to start a dialogue in the community about our community values, and what our reaction to this kind of hate speech should be,”” Close said.

    “”Defaced: A Found Archive”” is on display at the Union Gallery, on the third floor of the Student Union Memorial Center. The exhibit is running until Feb. 12, 2010. Coriana Close will be giving an artist talk Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. in the gallery.

    Contacts:

    Coriana Close, MFA student of photography, University of Arizona: 216-513-0292

    Holly Brown, Union Gallery Curator, University of Arizona 724-991-9762

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