Feature Articles

February 2014

701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, SC, Offers Works by Jan Banning

The 701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, SC, is presenting Jan Banning: Down and Out in the South, on view through Mar. 2, 2014.

The exhibition includes 24 large photographs portray homeless people in Columbia, Atlanta and Mississippi in a dignified manner, free of clichés, with aesthetic and artistic qualities that have made the Dutch photographer’s work world-renowned. The portraits are a reminder that “the homeless” are individuals. The exhibition adds to current discussions about homeless people in Columbia.

Selections from interviews that Banning conducted with homeless people in the exhibition will be available during the exhibition on a computer and through a QR code for smart phones.

Banning’s project began during his 2010 residency at 701 CCA, when he photographed homeless people in Columbia. He expanded the project to include Atlanta, GA, and the Mississippi Delta, producing a book and exhibition that has generated widespread attention in both Europe and the United States. 701 CCA is the first to present the complete exhibition in the United States.

“I photographed people who are homeless as I would photograph any other member of society,” Banning says. “That implied not seeking out the most picturesque people I could find, with beards and hats, and leaving out the typical paraphernalia, such as shopping carts and sleeping bags. My approach also implied not photographing them in dramatizing black and white — imagery so often associated with portraits of homelessness. Instead of presenting them as The Other, and thus, by default, different from us, I wanted to photograph them in a studio setting, against a neutral backdrop, focusing on their individuality rather than on stereotypes. In essence, I want to show who they are rather than what they are labeled [to be].”

“In Columbia,” Banning adds, “I worked with an outreach worker of a homeless organization. We approached people on the streets, in parks, and in the library, for example. The outreach worker would introduce me and explain what I was doing. If the person consented to the brief interview and to having their photograph made, we would go immediately to my make-shift studio and start right away, without any clean-up or other aesthetic arrangements.”

Banning (b. 1954, The Netherlands) is among Europe’s most prominent photographers. He gained worldwide recognition with one of his previous exhibitions and books, Bureaucratics, which was shown in museums and galleries in some 20 countries on five continents, including in 2010 at 701 CCA. Banning’s work is in the collections of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Atlanta’s High Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego and many other public collections. Among his many awards is the World Press Photo 2004 for Documentary Portrait Series.

701 CCA is a non-profit visual arts center that promotes understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of contemporary art, the creative process and the role of art and artists in the community. The center also encourages interaction between visual and other art forms.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listing, call the Center at 803/319-9949 or visit (www.701cca.org).

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