Thursday, July 7, 2016

Traveling in Chicago- The Museum of Contemporary Photography

Sometimes it “takes a village” and other times it “takes a photograph”. When we hear about an injustice, we may feel some concern. When we see it right before our eyes, it can be impossible to ignore. Few people will forget the image of the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body was washed upon the shores of Europe. Knowing how powerful an image can be, the Museum of Contemporary Photography displays photography exhibits depicting social conditions.

The Museum of Contemporary Photography (MOCP), ,a part of Columbia College, was opened in 1976. It is located at 600 S. Michigan Avenue and is free to the public. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00-5:00 and on Sundays from 12:00-5:00. This museum is small and it doesn’t take long to see one of their exhibits. I recommend a visit when you’re in the area. The images in its current exhibit are quite poignant.

I was fortunate to pay a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Photography in time to see their current exhibit Burnt Generation, Contemporary Iranian Photography. It is there through this weekend- through July 10th- and definitely worth seeing. This exhibit of contemporary Iranian photographers is powerful. Although we have seen many Iranian movies that eloquently depicted the challenges in Iranian society, we had not seen Iranian photographs. Nevertheless, the movies had piqued my interest and I was interested to see this exhibit.

Many of the pictures are in black and white adding to the severity of the situation the photographer is showing us. Most of the pictures that aren’t in black and white are in very subdued tones showing a whole society caught in a very somber mood. The photographs are all taken by contemporary Iranian photographers of people in the generation-those born between 1963-1980 known as the Burnt Generation. They had experienced the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Iran-Iraq War and all the consequences thereafter. The social and political unrest that they endured shows on the people’s faces.

I especially admired the photos taken by Newsha Tavakolian. She took pictures of people in such private moments that I almost felt like I should look away.


This other picture by Gohar Dashti is of a group but it had the same effect on me. Could we be that different from one another? I think not.


Altogether, this was a very thoughtfully assembled exhibit. The MOCP’s next exhibit starting July 21st will be open until October 9th. Its title is “Petcoke: Tracing Dirty Energy.” I’m looking forward to seeing how they treat this timely topic.

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