1991: The Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermath, Photographs by Richard Misrach Commemorates the Twentieth Anniversary of the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley Fire. A Companion Exhibition, Richard Misrach: Photographs from the Collection, Showcases the Artist's Early Experiments with Color Photography as well as His Large-Scale Chromogenic Prints, a Format that He Helped to Popularize.
Berkeley, CA, July 27, 2011-(Download a PDF version of this press release.)The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is proud to present two exhibitions by famed Berkeley-based photographer Richard Misrach. 1991: The Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermath, Photographs by Richard Misrach commemorates the twentieth anniversary of the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley hills firestorm, and is made possible by a generous donation of thirty-three prints to the museum by the artist. A companion exhibition, Richard Misrach: Photographs from the Collection, celebrates the artist's longtime association with BAM/PFA by presenting a sampling of works that showcase his early explorations into color photography, as well as his large-scale chromogenic prints. Both exhibitions open on October 12, 2011 and are on view through February 5, 2012.
In October of 1991, immediately following the catastrophic Oakland-Berkeley hills firestorm, Misrach ventured into the fire zone armed with his eight-by-ten-inch view camera. Working by himself amidst the ruins, he roamed devastated neighborhoods, recording stark vistas and intimate details of destroyed homes. 1991: The Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermath, Photographs by Richard Misrach presents forty of these image: fourteen large-scale images and a grid of twenty-six smaller prints that form an “elegy wall.”
The photographs, distinguished by Misrach's masterful framing of his subjects, capture the horror and haunting beauty of the fire's aftermath. The compositions are dramatic without being sensational and reveal a world transformed. Out of respect for the victims of the fire-which killed twenty-five people, injured 150 others, and destroyed 1,520 acres-Misrach's images have remained unexhibited for the last twenty years. This exhibition, as well as a similar presentation on view at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) from October 15, 2011 through February 12, 2012, provides a poignant document to this tragic event in the Bay Area's history. Visitors to BAM/PFA-and OMCA-will be able to participate in this recording of history by contributing their own recollections and reflections to a handmade book in the galleries, an “elegy ledger.”
Richard Misrach: Photographs from the Collection celebrates the artist's long-time association with BAM/PFA. A UC Berkeley alumnus, he was featured in a 1989 MATRIX Program exhibition, which showcases the work of emerging artists, and also in the 2002 exhibition Richard Misrach: Berkeley Work. Photographs from the Collection, presents-in full for the first time-Misrach's Graecism portfolio (1979–82), a set of twelve vintage dye transfer prints of Greek and Roman ruins, lit by strobes at night and shot using a long exposure technique. Also, on display are samplings from the acclaimed series Golden Gate, Desert Cantos, and Bravo 20 Bombing Range, all part of Misrach's ongoing visual narrative examining the complex relationship between humans and nature. For his Golden Gate series (1997–2000), Misrach secured his camera to the front porch of his home in the Berkeley Hills and captured more than seven hundred images of the Golden Gate Bridge at different times of day over a period of about three years.
About the Artist
Richard Misrach launched his career in the early 1970s when he documented street life on Telegraph Avenue. Starting in the late 1970s, he turned to the creation of cultural landscapes with an 8x10 view camera-forgoing black-and-whites-that helped to pioneer large-scale photography with a sociopolitical edge. His work ranges widely and has taken him around the world, from the petroleum industry's toxic wastelands along the Mississippi River and the detritus of Katrina to the beaches of Hawaii and the pyramids of Egypt.
Misrach's photographs have been exhibited worldwide and are held in the collections of more than fifty major institutions, here and abroad, including the Oakland Museum of California; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the German Society for Photography's Cultural Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2002 and the Lucie Award for Achievement in Fine Art Photography in 2008. Misrach is represented by the Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco; Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Marc Selwyn Fine Arts, Los Angeles.
1991: The Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermath, Photographs by Richard Misrach is curated by Lucinda Barnes, Chief Curator and Director of Programs and Collections, and made possible by the generous support of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and BAM/PFA members.
The exhibition is accompanied by 1991, a limited- edition book published by Blind Spot Editions (www.blindspot.com).
Community Evening for 1991: The Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermath, Photographs by Richard Misrach
Tuesday, October 11, 5:30 PM
Members and guests from around the community are invited to preview 1991: The Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermath, Photographs by Richard Misrach.
Richard Misrach: Gallery Talk
Wednesday, October 12, noon
Included with museum admission
Photographer Richard Misrach will discuss the work on view in 1991: The Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermath, Photographs by Richard Misrach.
Louse Mozingo and Richard Walker in Conversation
Sunday, October 30, 3:00 PM
Included with museum admission
In the first of several public conversations inspired by the exhibition 1991: The Oakland-Berkeley Fire Aftermath, Photographs by Richard Misrach, UC Berkeley professors Louise Mozingo (Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning) and Richard Walker (Geography) consider the social-historical, economic, ecological, and environmental contexts of the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley fire.
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