In a 40 minute interview with North Carolina NPR affiliate WFDD, I spoke about my two projects currently on show at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Arts (SECCA), Blue Sky Days and Traces of Exile.
Artist talk with Tomas van Houtryve November 17, at 6:00 pm
Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA)
750 Marguerite Dr.
Winston-Salem, NC 27106
Dispatches gathers and generates artistic responses to the news by 34 contemporary artists and photojournalists. The exhibition includes a survey of works from 2010 to present and launches a series of commissions, or “dispatches” on current events and the critical issues of our time.
The art works emerge from within and in defiance of today’s media landscape, ranging from real-time coverage to deliberately slow and analog forms. They enlarge our collective capacity to sensitively receive stories delivered in today’s unevenly regulated and fast flow of news. They decelerate the speed of information. Or, they organize collective efforts toward a more humanizing interaction.
Dispatches is divided into five thematic zones: Post-9-11 Realities; Borders and Migrations; Ecological Justice; New Forms of Social Action; and the 2016 US Presidential Election.
Featured independent artists include Doug Ashford, Rossella Biscotti, Hasan Elahi, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Sheryl Oring, Trevor Paglen, and Larry C. Price. Featured photographers from the VII Photo collective include Ashley Gilbertson, Ron Haviv, Ed Kashi, Sarker Protick, Maciek Nabrdalik, Sim Chi Yin, and Danny Wilcox Frazier.
Tomas van Houtryve is the only artist with two bodies of work in the show: Traces of Exile in the Borders and Migrations section and Blue Sky Days in the Post-9-11 Realities section. Both projects were supported with grants from the Pulitzer Center.
Last Whispers immersive installation by Lena Herzog, 21 to 23 October, 2016
Featuring original drone videography by Tomas van Houtryve
The British Museum
The Living and Dying Gallery (room 24)
Last Whispers is a project about a mass extinction.
Every two weeks, the world loses a language. At an unprecedented speed, faster than the extinction of some species, our linguistic diversity—the very means by which we know ourselves—is eroding. Today, more than half of the world population speaks only 30 of the 7,000 languages remaining on earth. It is estimated that at least half of the currently spoken languages will have died by the end of this century. Some estimates project a much greater speed of this disappearance.
By definition, it occurs in silence, since silence is the very form of this extinction.
Every community that loses its language feels as if it is happening to it alone. In fact, it is happening to the majority of world’s languages. Most of us, in the Western world barely hear an echo of this vanishing chorus. We want the world to hear it and feel its loss.
Last Whispers was conceptualized, directed, and produced by Lena Herzog with sound design and compositions by Marco Capalbo and Mark Mangini. Tomas van Houtryve contributed original drone videography.
Blue Sky Days solo exhibition Oct. 4
to Nov. 23 prolonged to Dec. 31, 2016
Artist reception Thursday, Oct. 13 from 6:30 to 8:30pm
Anastasia Photo gallery
143 Ludlow Street,
New York City, NY 10002
Starting in 2013, I traveled across America to aerially photograph the kind of gatherings that have become habitual targets for drone strikes abroad — including weddings, funerals, and groups of people praying or exercising. I also flew my camera over settings where government surveillance drones have been used domestically.
In October 2012, a drone strike in northeast Pakistan killed a 67-year-old woman picking okra outside her home. At a U.S. Congressional hearing held in Washington in October 2013, the woman’s 13-year-old grandson, Zubair Rehman, spoke to a group of lawmakers. “I no longer love blue skies,” said Rehman, who was injured by shrapnel in the attack. “In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray.”
The images captured from the drone’s perspective engage with the changing nature of surveillance, personal privacy, and war.
The production of Blue Sky Days was supported with grants from the Pulitzer Center, and was first published by Harper’s magazine as a 16-page spread, the largest photo essay in the magazine’s 166-year history.
Praise for Blue Sky Days
“Blue Sky Days is one of the most important photo essays done in the last few years. It tackles issues that are very difficult to photograph but central to modern existence — privacy, government intrusion and modern antiseptic warfare.”
- James Estrin, Editor of the The New York Times LENS blog
“With simple, vivid means, Houtryve brings the war home.”
– Teju Cole, Photography critic for The New York Times Magazine
“Conceptual in nature, grounded in metaphor, and presented in gorgeous black and white, his series Blue Sky Days sure looks like art.“
– Jordan G. Teicher, critic for Photograph Magazine
Honors for Blue Sky Days
• ICP Infinity Award
• World Press Photo, Second Prize
• Photographic Museum of Humanity, First Prize
• White House News Photographers Association, First Prize
• POYi Award of Excellence
• TIME’s Top 10 Photos of 2014
• Aaron Siskind Fellowship Grant
• Pulitzer Center Grant
• Getty Grant
Surveillance group exhibition featuring Blue Sky Days, September 16, 2016 to January 29, 2016
Artist talk with Tomas van Houtryve October 6, 2016 at 6:00 pm
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, Missouri 64111
Who is watching you? In the 21st century, it is hard to escape the camera’s all-seeing eye. With every movement recorded by cameras, it is difficult to remember that surveillance is not a modern construct. This exhibition examines photography’s role in secretive looking from the 1860s to today.
Dating from 1864 to 2014, the works in this exhibition fall under categories of spying/hidden camera, photography of the forbidden, military surveillance, areas of heavy surveillance, and mapping satellites and drones. Also included are examples of counter-surveillance that either prevent watching or surveille the watchers.
The group exhibition includes works by Henri-Cartier Bresson, Paul Strand, Walker Evans, Miroslav Tichy, Trevor Paglen, Mishka Henner, and Tomas van Houtryve.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art acquired two prints from Tomas van Houtyve’s Blue Sky Days series for their permanent collection.
Mine Eats City evening screening 31 Aug. 2016
Visa pour l’Image festival
High in Peru’s Andes mountains sits Cerro de Pasco, a 400-year old city which is being devoured from its very center by an expanding open-pit mine.
The two months that I lived in Cerro de Pasco—meeting it’s lead-poisoned children and surveying the wounded land—often felt like I was living in parable. Everyone in the city knew that the dragon was eating it’s own tail, slowly consuming it’s wealth, along with the health of the mine workers, their friends and families.
Neighborhoods near the open-pit are on the verge of being swallowed. Heaps of mine tailings laced with lead are continually deposited next to playgrounds and schools. People walk for hours for access to clean water or dip into tainted industrial pipelines for their washing.
Since the mine is central to the city’s economy, few people want it to be completely shut down. What they want is for the Volcan mining company to conduct their operations responsibly.
Bending the Frame group exhibition 26 August to 23 October, 2016
featuring Blue Sky Days
1699 København V
What do we want from this media revolution? Not just where is it bringing us – where do we want to go? When the pixels start to settle, where do we think we should be in relationship to media – as producers, subjects, viewers? Since all media inevitably change us, how do we want to be changed? —Fred Ritchin
Fred Ritchin’s book, Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen (Aperture, 2013), forms the basis for the exhibition. In an era when there is growing skepticism about the conventional media, the idea is to present strategies from documentary photography and photojournalism that, when combined with contemporary art practices, “bend the frame” with the intention of creating greater social impact and a wider discussion that may then lead to helpful social change.
The exhibition presents a mix of older and newer pictures, photography and video, that stands out from the enormous media stream of billions of images; photographs that make a difference and can help to pave the way for new thoughts and ideas. Poised between documentary and art photography, the exhibition looks at contemporary developments in media as offering enormous potentials for greater expression and involvement.
After opening in Copenhagen, the exhibition will be shown in Oslo and Stockholm. (Dates to come)
Blue Sky Days solo exhibition 29 to 31 July, 2016
• LIVE Magazine talk on 29 July at 8:00pm
• Projection and artist talk on 31 July at 6:00pm
In October 2012, a drone strike in northeast Pakistan killed a 67-year-old woman picking okra outside her house. At a briefing held in 2013 in Washington, DC, the woman’s 13-year-old grandson, Zubair Rehman, spoke to a group of five lawmakers. “I no longer love blue skies,” said Rehman, who was injured by shrapnel in the attack. “In fact, I now prefer grey skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are grey.”
With my camera attached to a small drone, I traveled across America to photograph the very sorts of gatherings that have become habitual targets for foreign air strikes—weddings, funerals and groups of people praying or exercising. I also flew my camera over settings in which drones are used to less lethal effect, such as prisons, oil fields, and the US-Mexico border. The images captured from the drone’s perspective engage with the changing nature of surveillance, personal privacy and war.
Leica’s M Magazine published my Mine Eats City series in their Spring 2016 issue. The series is about a city in danger of disappearing. High in the Andes mountains, a mine that once supplied the Spanish Crown with silver is now poisoning the 70,000 inhabitants of Cerro de Pasco, eating away at the very earth beneath their feet. An interview about the story which… read more.