I met Efrem completely by accident. It was during my recent visit to a Chelsea gallery where I was engaged in a discussion regarding the changing role of photography in the art world. Efrem was busy with another task but having overheard our chatter, he shared that he would welcome conversation on the subject. He invited me to visit his recently curated exhibition for more discussion.
A few days later I found the exhibition, This Is Not Here: Re 21, on the second floor of the vast Pfizer building, in Brooklyn, New York.
Inside, the project occupied two expansive rooms, displaying the creations of 57 artists. The presentation made use of multiple art forms, mostly mixed media engaging motion, light, space, sound and photography or video.
Efrem curated the project to include a diverse selection of both established and emerging artists, with a focus on the art rather than the creator. Most of the entries combine artistic disciplines without boundary. Contributors include photographers such as Patricia Voulgaris and Ilona Szwarc, as well as sculptors, videographers, painters, and some artists which escape definition.
With no titles or names attached to the exhibits, each entry stood firmly on its own with the purpose of inviting the spectator to engage their own thoughts. I asked about the focus of his project.
Efrem explained the show is not designed to express the views or feelings of the artists, but to inspire the creative thought of the viewer. He curated this exhibit as an open call to artists with the intention of creating a space where visitors would feel immersed within the art and the spacious venue that contains it.
Accustomed to the standard passive exhibits usually displayed in galleries, I found Efrem’s exhibition beckoning engagement at each display. What initially felt uncomfortable, soon felt like a playground for my mind.
I asked Efrem about the interaction of photography within the exhibit. His answer was in alignment with what I saw. Efrem said that he began his journey into art as a photographer in Florida. While it may be meaningful to have art categories such as painting, sculpture and photography, he doesn’t think it is necessary to separate them.
“Art is art, it is not just painting or sculpture. Art is everything together, and not separate; sculpting, photography and even poetry. They work together.”
Efrem Zelony-Mindell is clearly a creative who seems to avoid labeling of any kind. He is established as a poet, artist, photographer, and curator. He graduated from the School of Visual Arts where he majored in photography and minored in painting.
Re 21 achieved its purpose for me, spurring thoughts of how photography might work with other art forms, or how other art forms might enhance photography.
Challenge: How might you marry your photography with other art forms?
Written by Jerry McKay.