The Innermost Room is an exhibition of rescued photographs and public documents. Featuring original images and video, the exhibition will benefit Operation Photo Rescue.
Open through June 1, 2012.
Ruth Dusseault is visiting assistant professor and artist-in-residence in the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech. Her work is exhibited and collected internationally. Dusseault's numerous projects examine utopian expressions in the built environment. Her work reveals the paradoxical relationship between utopian and dystopian realities in our present and immediate histories.
This exhibition is sponsored in part by the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs.
Artist Statement by RUTH DUSSEAULT
This exhibition is primarily an event to benefit Operation Photo Rescue (OPR), a national organization that goes into disaster-hit cities and works with community organizations to salvage, clean and return photographs to their owners. Storm victims who have lost all material possessions can at least regain their memories and reconstruct their identities as they rebuild their lives.
At 5pm on Sunday, May 22, 2011 the town of Joplin Missouri was struck with an F5 tornado, the third deadliest on record. Seven thousand homes were destroyed and 155 people perished. OPR moved in to collect photographs salvaged from the debris, some pictures were found 250 miles away. The faces of this middle-class middle American community are resilient in the scarred photos. The surfaces of the prints are marked with the geophysical patterns of the tornado.
Since the storm, cleanup efforts have steadily progressed and citizens have voiced their desires for a new, more sustainable city. In an age of increasingly turbulent weather, issues associated with rebuilding are increasingly pertinent. It is a question of whether cities should simply reconstruct or completely redesign.
As an artist, I am interested in utopian expressions in the built environment. In various manifestations, I find they offer some reflection and insight on the historic reality in which we live. This storm occurred just prior to my visit to the region for another project. When I learned of the devastation and the clean swept landscape, I went to Joplin to work and record. Over time I stayed in contact with the city manager and collected public documents in which the people of Joplin express a utopian future.
Those documents will be on display in this show, they were gathered over the course of two visits – three weeks and seven months after the storm. Also on display will be prints from scans of unclaimed rescued photos, original images and video. These materials present a portrait of this middle-class city, tell the story of the storm and voice a vision of the future, which reads as a to-do list for the planet.
Please visit www.operationphotorescue.org to learn more about OPR. They have worked in many places across the country, including cities in Georgia. If you know how to digitally restore photographs, you can help from home.