Carnegie 1 ForealismTribe
Forealism Tribe, Forealism Miami, 2018. Digital photography. Courtesy of the artists

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Far Out: The Unexpected Awaits at FotoFocus Northern Kentucky Venues

Posted on September 17, 2018

The Carnegie’s Exhibition Director Matt Distel sums up FotoFocus this year in Northern Kentucky like this: “Get over here for the weird stuff.”

Not just weird—in some cases, downright out of this world. Where else could you meet two artists from another dimension and then turn around and see photographs taken by astronauts in space?

FotoFocus’s Biennial theme Open Archive and the venues in the Commonwealth don’t disappoint with their varied and sometimes out there approaches to the subject.

In this installment of The Lens, we explore what NKY will offer on October 20, a FotoFocus Neighborhood Spotlight Day, when you can see a lot of great art but also attend some interesting special events—like a Digital Detox Workshop.

Here are some of the unexpected things waiting for you in Northern Kentucky.

We Come in Peace

The Carnegie, a multidisciplinary arts venue in Covington, opens its doors this year to the Forealism Tribe, two performance artists known as Soul Force and Star Power.

These shiny space-travelers came to Earth in 2012 and use music, art, and dance to interact with and learn about life on our planet.

In their earthly explorations, the duo from another dimension has visited Kassel and Münster, Germany; Miami Beach, Florida; Houston, Texas; St. Louis, Missouri; and many locations around Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

For the first time anywhere in the universe, the Forealism Tribe presents The Forealism Files, an anthropological museum display of documents, photographs, videos, and artifacts from their travels.

Before he saw the work, Distel thought of the Forealism Tribe primarily as performance artists and sculptors—he didn’t realize how rooted their work was in photography.

Those who have seen the artists at the Fringe Festival earlier this year, or in other performances, are in for something entirely different, says Distel. Their performances are high energy, with dancing and club-type music.

“That’s an experience, a sensory experience,” he says. “This is the more cerebral side of those performances.”

The Forealism Files contain a healthy dose of humor, adds Distel, and he finds the videos—particularly one where the tribe visits a church in Germany—to be a revelation.

On October 20, catch a Q&A with the artists and Distel at 2 p.m.

“An Opportunity to Burn Some Bullshit”

Sculptor and programmatic artist Joel Armor realized recently that he had a thing for what he calls “inadvertent photos.”

Photos he didn’t mean to take or remember taking. Yet there they existed, archived in his phone.

“As a practicing artist, I’m interested in the moments I’m not making aesthetic judgements,” Armor says. “Finding these photographs, I just had this desire to keep them and never purge them.”

But FotoFocus’s theme this year offered him a chance to finally rid himself of the photos. And he’s extending the invitation to anyone else who wants “an opportunity to burn some bullshit and set new intentions.”

Stop in The Baker Hunt Art & Cultural Center on Greenup Street in Covington and see the images in his show #cloudingjudgements. Afterward, Armor plans to delete the images forever.

He’s encouraging the public to look at their phones and find something they are keeping for no good reason.

“Maybe they’re inadvertent photos, like mine, or a file folder from a past relationship,” says Armor.

He encourages people to use the hashtag #cloudingjudgements so that a new archive is created, and, then, let the images go.

Through this exhibition, “Armor analyzes the impact that photographic accessibility and infinite storage archives have on each of us, as we repeatedly point and shoot with our phones,” according to the show’s description.

If you visit on October 20, you’ll have the chance to participate in a free workshop from 1–3 p.m. The first half is a lecture on Memory and Mindfulness by Cleveland-based psychologist Brian Denton, followed by a Digital Detox Workshop led by Lindsey Armor, Joel’s wife and of Nourish Cincinnati, and Stacy Sims.

Baker Hunt 2 Armor
Joel Armor, Inadvertent Image: IMG_974.jpg, 2014. Cloud-based Image, variable dimensions. Courtesy of the artist

Seeing Through the Eyes of Astronauts

As Michael Stillion flipped through the files of the John H. Glenn Archive at the Ohio State University Libraries, he was surprised to find actual negatives from John Glenn’s 1962 mission.

For years, the painter and sculptor had been fascinated by the idea of showing Glenn’s photographs in a gallery setting. He gets his chance with FotoFocus this year, where “there will be four beautifully subtle and powerful images from Glenn’s mission,” he says.

Stillion’s show, Outside/In/Inside/Out, at the Eva G. Farris Gallery at Thomas More College, also includes photos from Mercury 7 and Apollo 11 missions, as well as newer photographs of galaxies taken with high-powered telescopes.

“I’ve had some great dialog and direction from archives and museums around the country,” Stillion says. “I’ve talked with a curator from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, an archivist from Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and a person from the European Space Agency to name a few.”

He’ll give a lecture on the journey and the work at 1 p.m. October 20.

“My hope is that these important moments in history will be visually impactful and not forgotten,” Stillion says. “The innovation and heroism it takes to see ourselves from a distance is immense. I hope the images, though some may be subtle, will show the beauty and vulnerability of the world we live on. It’s important for us to look at the lens focused both from the outside/in and the inside/out to realize that we are essentially floating on a grain of sand and we are all in this together.”

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1. John Glenn, Sunrise from space, taken by John Glenn in the Friendship 7 spacecraft, 1962, Color Photograph. Courtesy of the Ohio Congressional Archives at Ohio State University

To see all of the NKY offerings, visit the Biennial Participating Venues page and scope out the stellar shows at Northern Kentucky University, i.imagine, and Behringer-Crawford Museum.