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Opening Passages : Chicago and Paris.

A discussion with French photographers Assia Labbas and Rebecca Topakian, and American photographer Sasha Phyars-Burgess

  • Tuesday, May 7 • 6:30 p.m.

  • Free Admission

  • On Site • Enter via 54 W. Chicago Ave

  • In English

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Moderated by Carl Fuldner and Pascal Beausse.

Discover the work of 3 artists as part of Opening Passages : Photographers Respond to Chicago and Paris , a multi-site photographic exhibition presenting recent works by ten artists staging a cross-cultural reflection on contemporary life in two global cities, Paris and Chicago. While these two sister cities are currently going through the same historical process of redefining their urban plans, the visions these artists offer to us, whether documentary or poetic, reflect the issues and identities specific to each territory, their differences, their similarities and the transformations at work.   

Carl Fuldner
Curator of the Exhibition Opening Passages

Carl Fuldner is an art historian and curator whose practice engages with the history of photography, environmental toxicology, and the intersections of art and natural history. Fuldner earned a PhD in Art History from the University of Chicago in 2018. He has taught art history and museum studies courses at the Rhode Island School of Design and Western Colorado University. He also has over fifteen years of experience working for museums and cultural institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Yale University Art Gallery, Smart Museum of Art, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wisconsin Historical Society, and Villa Albertine. He is a co-editor of The Art Institute of Chicago Field Guide to Photography and Media (2023).

Pascal Beausse
Associate Curator of the Exhibition Opening Passages

Pascal Beausse is Head of the photography collection at the Centre national des arts plastiques (Paris). With Anna Labouze, Keimis Henni and Clément Postec, he curated the Regards du Grand Paris exhibition in 2022, presenting the works of 38 photographers who were laureates of the eponymous photographic commission launched in 2016, with the aim of building up, year after year, a corpus of images and authors’ views on the evolution of the Greater Paris.

Assia Labbas 

The artist followed regular commuters on the B line of the RER (high-speed train service linking Paris to the suburbs) , examining the impact of these images as representative of the area, Seine-Saint-Denis. RER B-ANLIEUES, 2022 When looking at these photographs, the artist reveal - through the windows of the train – unexpected perspectives on the landscape of the area and those living. 

Rebecca Topakian

Halfway between a scientific undertaking and a poetic reverie, Rebecca Topakian’s series (n=6-9) explores the Greater Paris area through exotic birds: the rose-ringed parakeets escaped from Orly airport in 1974, they have multiplied to over eight thousand. With ethologists, the artist captures their flight using infrared photography. Accompanying sentences on silk prints from various social networks reveal social inequalities in the face of differences.  

Sasha Phyars-Burgess

Sasha Phyars-Burgess, a Brooklyn native raised in Pennsylvania to Trinidadian parents, is a skilled photographer with a BA from Bard College and an MFA from Cornell University. She’s recognized as an emerging voice in contemporary photography, her work showcasing series blending documentary and fine art, exploring themes of diaspora, family, place, and social phenomena. In 2023, she undertook an artist residency in Paris as part of the Clichycago program at Ateliers Médicis. She received the Guggenheim Fellowship Award and the Diane Dammeyer Award for her work in Austin. 

This program is possible thanks to the support of Villa Albertine Chicago

Opening Passages : Photographers Respond to Chicago and Paris  is part of Art Design Chicago, a citywide collaboration initiated by the Terra Foundation for American Art that highlights the city’s artistic heritage and creative communities.

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