CHICAGO—Traversing the Past: Adam Golfer, Diana Matar, Hrvoje Slovenc at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago presents the work of three artists, all of whom trace their family stories to histories of political turmoil, violence, and displacement. In using personal experiences as starting points, the artists transform the autobiographical into a multivalent lens through which to view complex political narratives. Adam Golfer, Diana Matar, and Hrvoje Slovenc use family stories originating during World War II, the Qaddafi regime in Libya, and the Croatian War of Independence, respectively, as a starting point for examining how traces of the past confound and obscure the present.
Adam Golfer, recipient of the MoCP’s 2016 Snider Prize, explores the overlapping histories of violence and displacement connecting Europe, Israel, and Palestine. Mapping his family history—beginning with his grandfather’s experiences during the Holocaust, his father’s relationship to Israel in the 1970s, and arriving in the present to face his own complex feelings toward Israeli occupation of Palestine—Golfer uses snapshots from his family’s archive, text, and digital ephemera to map contradictory histories.
Diana Matar photographs evidence of absence in Libya to document sites of political violence, a project particularly shaped by her father-in-law’s disappearance as an opposition leader in the early 1990s. Chronicling her visit to Libya after the 2011 revolution, Matar’s subtle black and white photographs of landscape and architecture document the human rights violations that occurred during Qaddafi’s regime, while serving as a meditation on the personal absence of her father-in-law.
The photographs of Hrvoje Slovenc’s project Croatian Rhapsody: Borderlands underscore the turbulent past of Slovenc’s homeland during the Croatian War of Independence and its aftermath, as well as his experiences as a young, queer Croatian immigrant in New York City. Using three-dimensional, audio, and video components and various materials, Slovenc’s work grapples with dislocation, identity, and ultimately, the permeable borders that govern nations—and ourselves.
The exhibition, running January 18 through April 1, 2018 at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago, traverses an often fraught relationship to the past and, in the process, ultimately complicates the present.