Today at 1 PM, the Oregon Jewish Museum (1953 NW Kearney) opens its beautiful new NW space with The Shape of Time a group photography show. The exhibition is guest-curated by Tim DuRoche. Portland-based photographers Bobby Abrahamson, Jeff Amram, William Galen, Stu Levy and Carol Isaak, David Lanthan Reamer and Sika Stanton were invited to make work in response to or inspired by photographs and objects in the Museum’s extensive archive. The works range from Sika Stanton’s elegant and moody tintypes of textiles and laces to Bill Galen’s re-shootings of photos he’d shot around Portland decades ago. Full disclosure: the exhibition was curated by my partner-in-crime, Tim DuRoche.
The goal of the exhibit is to go beyond historical comparisons of familiar locations or architecture. Rather, the work will initiate a dialogue about the specifics of Jewish history in Oregon as it ties to spatial location and public memory. Equally important, we are interested in how a photographic response to archival images might augment, shape or replace an eroded group memory, which never depended on historians in the first place. This step into a city’s and a culture’s well of history and memory helps us to uncover what Dolores Hayden has called “the power of place–the power of ordinary urban landscapes to nurture citizens’ public memory, to encompass shared time in the form of shared territory.” The intersection of private observation and collective memory captured by the photographs and our reactions to them should help us gain new perspectives on change.