LOOK 101: Seeing Art in an Instagram World

The Art of Gideon Mendel

Geared toward undergraduate students and focusing on the current exhibitions at the Institute for the Humanities, this contemporary series of discussions offers a fresh take on the basics of looking and evaluating art in the gallery and how it’s organized, making the connection from the traditional “white cube gallery” to iGen visual worlds like Facebook and Instagram. Today: How to look at the art of Gideon Mendel with Institute for the Humanities curator Amanda Krugliak.

About the exhibition:

This five-channel video installation titled "Floodlines" is the culmination of the video element of Drowning World, South African photographer Gideon Mendel's on-going project exploring the human dimension of climate change by focusing on floods across geographical and cultural boundaries.

"Floodlines" explores the tension between the frozen photographic moment and the perpetual movement and uncertainty of dystopian, post-flood environments. It depicts a variety of individual stories, positioned with a synchronously edited global narrative in a way that is both personally intimate and deeply political. In all his years of responding to floods he has shot a vast archive of footage in eleven different countries, which is fully activated in this presentation.

In addition to the video installation in the main gallery, there will be a time-based process wall of photographs that Mendel will work on in the Osterman Common Room, in collaboration with Curator Amanda Krugliak and U-M students.

About Drowning World:
The work began in 2007, when Mendel photographed floods in the UK and in India within weeks of each other. He was deeply struck by the contrasting impact of these events, and the shared experiences of those affected.

Since then he has endeavoured to travel to flood zones around the world visiting Haiti (2008), Pakistan (2010), Australia (2011), Thailand (2011), Nigeria (2012), Germany (2013), The Philippines (2013), The UK (2014), India (2014), Brazil (2015), Bangladesh (2015), the USA (2015 and 2017) and France (2016 and 2018).

As the work progressed photographing floods became both a literal and allegorical means of documenting the tension between the personal and the global effects of climate change. Each location added has intensified the narrative impact of the endeavour.

About Gideon Mendel:
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1959, Gideon Mendel studied psychology and African history at the University of Cape Town. In the beginning of his career as a freeelance photographer, he documented life in South Africa under apartheid. Many of his photographs focused on the political, economic, and racial struggles in the country leading up to Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990. Three years later, Mendel moved to London and starting photographing people living with AIDS, first in Africa and then around the world. He has won several World Press Photo awards, the 1996 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography, and the Amnesty International Media Award for Photojournalists. Since 2007, he has been examining the impact of climate change on the world’s poorest people in a series titled Drowning World.

His work has been featured in publications including National Geographic; Fortune; Conde Nast Traveler; and The Sunday Times Magazine. His first monograph A Broken Landscape: HIV & AIDS in Africa was published in 2001. He has also worked with numerous non-profit organizations on photographic advocacy projects.
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When and Where

Map 202 S. Thayer - Institute for the Humanities Gallery & Osterman Common Room, #1022

December 2018

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1:00pm - 2:30pm

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