December 11, 2011 – February 4, 2012
Visiting Artist Lecture: SAT. FEB. 4 AT 6:30PM
The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center is pleased to announce its first solo exhibition, Pa Bouje Ankò: Don’t Move Again by Laura Heyman. For this ongoing project, Heyman travels to Port-au-Prince, Haiti and creates a roaming formal portrait studio. Heyman operates an outdoor photo studio in a particular neighborhood for a number of days before moving to another location. News circulates through advertisements or word of mouth that a photographer will open a studio in a specific neighborhood, and local community members make appointments to have their portraits made for free. The project questions whether it is possible for a photographer to overcome the hierarchy between first-world photographer, third-world subject, and remote viewer.
Heyman loosely models her studio after the large number of portrait studios in Port-au-Prince, using a variety of backdrops, along with reflectors to control and augment the available light. The portraits created in these makeshift studios are designed to explicitly oppose the aesthetics of tourism, reportage and photojournalism. The meaning of these images has changed after the earthquake, as they have become both record and memorial. That event also enlarged the focus of the project, which has evolved to include various rapidly expanding communities in Port-Au-Prince tied to reconstruction.
The project was initially proposed for the Ghetto Biennale, an event organized by the Haitian art collective Atis-Rezistans and British artist Leah Gordon which took place in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from November to December of 2009.
Laura Heyman is an associate professor of photography in Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. Her work has been exhibited at such venues as Ampersand International Arts, San Francisco, CA; Deutsches Polen-Institut, Darmstadt, Germany; Senko Studio, Viborg, Denmark; and The National Portrait Gallery, London, United Kingdom. Her most recent curatorial project, Who’s Afraid of America, featuring the work of Justyna Badach, Larry Clark, Cheryl Dunn, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Zoe Strauss and Tobin Yelland, was exhibited at Wonderland Art Space, in Copenhagen, Denmark.