Above the Abyss: Apocalyptic Visions in Photography
Join us on Wednesday, December 13th at 5PM at the Yorkville Library as the Russian American Cultural Center presents William Brumfield, Professor of Slavic Studies and Sizeler Professor of Jewish Studies at Tulane University, who discusses the photography of Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944), his own photographic project, "Lost America", and the peculiar nature of photography as an art form.
Event Venue:Yorkville Library
Meeting Room, 222 East 79th Street (btw 2nd and 3rd Ave)
New York, NY 10075
Event Date:December 13, 2023 5PM
"Above the Abyss: Apocalyptic Visions in Photography"
William Brumfield, Professor of Slavic Studies, Sizeler Professor of Jewish Studies, Tulane University
Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky's photographs are widely known for their fascinating, technically brilliant portrayal of the Russian Empire in the final years of its existence. From ancient Russia to Turkestan (Central Asia), the sweep is immense. Prokudin-Gorsky believed in that empire, yet it would collapse in a terrifying paroxysm of violence shortly after his last expedition in 1916. William Brumfield's presentation considers Prokudin-Gorsky's photographs in a broad historical context, and in so doing examines the peculiar nature of photography as an art form. In his book Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes proposes that every photograph is a premonition of catastrophe-- a proposition revealed with special force in Brumfield's recent book Journeys through the Russian Empire: the Photographic Legacy of Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky. Yet photography is also a premonition of transformation. Brumfield's photographic project "Lost America," recently exhibited at the Shchusev State Museum in Moscow, presents abandoned, often degraded, objects or sites transformed by the process of time. The effects of abrasion, captured in the "bestranged" forms of these photographs (taken in the 1970s in New England and the American South), reveal the mystery of existence beyond catastrophe —abandonment as transcendence throught the art of the photograph.
William Craft Brumfield, Professor of Slavic Studies and Sizeler Professor of Jewish Studies at Tulane University, is an elected member of the Russian Academy of the Arts as well as the Russian State Academy of Architecture and Construction Sciences. The main collection of his photographic work is held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. His most recent book is Journeys through the Russian Empire: The Photograhic Legacy of Sergei Prokudin Gorsky.