Eroded Histories: Photographs by Ruth Adams and Deborah Orloff

September 26, 2022–October 28, 2022

Photography and history are selective, and documentation within particular cultural environments can distort how history is remembered. This exhibition creates a dialogue about human society through the juxtaposition of two different bodies of work that deal with the artists’ overlapping interests in how we remember the past. Ruth Adams and Deborah Orloff both draw upon their cultural heritage and family histories to investigate memory within the context of the forced migration and persecution of their ancestors which caused the erasure of cultural histories.

Adams explores cultural memory through photographs of European cemeteries. Cultural memories are those transformative historical experiences that define a culture. Presented as platinum prints, these intimate photographs reflect the beauty in decay of German/Jewish and Italian/Catholic burial places and the artist’s experience with them as she contemplates their function in remembering loved ones and one’s cultural history. The evidence of visitors— flowers, a worn chair, a stone left in remembrance—speaks to the desire to converse with one’s past.

Intrigued by abandoned photographs found in her parents’ basement and inspired by her experience writing a eulogy, Orloff utilizes damaged family photos as subject matter in an investigation of the complicated relationship between photography and memory. She explores the significance of vernacular photographs as aesthetic objects and cultural artifacts. Inadvertently exposed to water, heat, and humidity, these once precious objects have undergone a powerful transformation. In their final representation, these banal objects become simulacra of loss and speak to the ephemeral nature of memory and lost family histories.

Documentary Contemporary Historical Two-Person Show Photography Family Friendly

Venue Details

Mount St. Joseph University: Studio San Giuseppe Art Gallery
5701 Delhi Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45233
(513) 244-4314

Free to the Public

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