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New Installation in Kim Gallery

Hood Quarterly, summer 2014
Juliette Bianco, Deputy Director

This summer, we invite you to encounter an exciting installation in the Hood’s Kim Gallery—usually reserved for the exhibition of ancient art—that sparks a compelling dialogue between past and present. Daniel Heyman’s When Photographers Are Blinded, Eagles’ Wings Are Clipped (2010) monumentalizes complex relationships between the artistic subject as victim, the artist as witness, and the viewer as consumer of information. Unfolding across the plywood surface of the work is an account of the violence of war and the silencing power of censorship.

The work’s repeating motif of boot-clad feet, some indicating mutilation at the hands of a combatant, allows the viewer to begin to decode the work’s unsettling narrative. The motif also recalls the structure of the Assyrian reliefs in this gallery, which were created in the ninth century BCE in what is now Iraq, the subject of Heyman’s present work. The artist, a 1985 graduate of Dartmouth College, writes that these reliefs “have been on my mind since I first saw them in Carpenter Hall [now home to the Art History department] in the early ’80s. . .  I have spent hours in front of them.” In his own work Heyman translates the reliefs’ program of “absolute political loyalty” to a context freshly rife with acts of war and terror.

Divided into roughly three sections, the work revolves around a central scene of obvious chaos, movement, and pain. A tower of images—many testifying to the achievements of an ordered and creative society—topples like a house of cards under the weight of forces of violence. Witness to it all is a blindfolded man on the left—the photographer of the work’s title. He is compromised by his inability to see, yet his raised camera demonstrates his commitment to recording what unfolds before him. Heyman’s inspiration for this figure is three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee Michael Kamber, a photojournalist who was embedded in Iraq multiple times over the course of six years. Kamber referred to himself as a “blinded photographer” because of the censorship that his work faced at the hands of the United States military, which forbade him from showing images of wounded or dead American soldiers. Kamber’s experience, so effectively captured by Heyman in this work, questions the ability of photojournalists to convey the truth of what they witness. The multiple eyes on the chest of the upside-down man on the right may indicate all the things this victim has been witness to, but is powerless to recount, and counterbalance the blinded photographer.

Although the Hood’s Assyrian reliefs and this work by Daniel Heyman are separated by culture, intention, and more than a thousand years, placing them side by side in a teaching museum allows the opportunity for conversation that might otherwise never take place, generating new ways of looking at the world around us and asking new questions of ourselves and others. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience a remarkable new addition to the museum’s collection and to see the Kim Gallery in a new light.

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