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On the Line

June 30 – September 30, 2020

Featured image: Karen Bullock, Robing Room (Mobile, Alabama), 2019

Juror’s statement

In February, the New Orleans Photo Alliance approached me about participating in an exhibition, and together we came up with a concept that reflected an interest in photography’s capacity to represent moments-in-between, to explore the notions of liminal states or movement across thresholds.

NOPA members responded to the call with a number of photographic formats and a wider array of aesthetic and thematic concerns. Where some photos included here rely on the camera’s vision to blur the lines of human form or identity, others are precisely focused on the person and heavily loaded with a sense that something is about to happen. We find people in the middle, or on the verge of ecstasy, anxiety, humor, growth, and grief. Some works approach deeply personal or systemic changes, like puberty or gentrification, via metonym. Roads, rails, and waterways provide classic signs of liminality, of the sense of being neither here nor there but also in both places. In On the Line, these metaphors extend to borders and crossroads, some of which are real and others imagined. We can be assured that some of the objects in the photographs sat in front of a camera, and even touched the photographic surface. Other images have been manipulated with a computer, in order to construct new tableaux or turning something destructive into an abstraction of new life. How do brand-new digital constructions relate to a fifty-year old photograph of a place that no longer exists in the same way? For this socially distanced exhibition, photographs initially intended to slice out a piece of history and present it on the wall in front of our eyes have been uploaded and sent around the world. Does that moment on the line repeat forever?

Of course, a photograph arrests vision at a split-second, but to what extent can it help us understand the experience of being on the threshold of changes, whether physical, philosophical or metaphorical? A few weeks after we established the concept for On the Line, the Covid-19 pandemic sequestered many of us in our homes, and filled all of us with uncertainty about our health and economic safety. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of police on May 25, 2020 brought Americans back out into the streets, pursuing a long-delayed revolution that is spreading throughout the world, and which we remain on the cusp of seeing through to its conclusion. Although photographs capture a historical point that, necessarily, was, we always view them through our current moment. At this time, the spirit and questions raised by the works included in On the Line seem all the more urgent.

– Brian Piper

Camille Barnett, Blurred Lines, 2018
Tod Smith, The River Reclaims its Own, 2020
Zoe Johnson, You Should have been a relic from my past a long time ago, 2018
Kathleen Tunnell Handel, The Edge – California #1 , 2017
Jan Arrigo, A New Kind of Landscape , 2018
Thom Bennett, Jourdan Ave and Claiborne Ave , 2018
Zyra Raguro, Engagement, 2015
Nicholas Fedak II, Ghosts, 2016
Karen Bullock, Robing Room (Mobile, Alabama), 2019
Donna Garcia, Muscogee, 2018
Lily Brooks, After Flood (Debris in flood control structure) , 2019
Colleen Mullins, Vestiges of My Mother’s Fear, 2020
Frank Hamrick, Whites Creek, Tennessee , 2018
Lisa Cates, Quinceañera
Johanna Warwick, America, 2017
Kevin Lajoie, Working Gun, 2016
Peter Tilgner, Abolition , 2011
Leah Graeff, Prairie Burn (4), 2018
Marcy Palmer, Firestorm/Time for Change, 2020
Romi Voorhies, Placenta
Renee Allie, Memento Mori: Flowers, Vines, and Lizard, 2020
Brandt Vicknair, Bliss, 2020
Bill Chapman, Jubilee, 2014
Melinda Shelton, Alone, An Exhausted and Inconsolable Ted , 2019
Donna Garcia, Swarm , 2017
Michael Mastrogiovanni, Masking # 5
Robert Schaefer, Veiled, 2020
Charles Lovell, You Deserve, Algiers, 2020
Donald Maginnis, Kabul Skyline, Prewar , 1970