|Volume 3 Issue 30||September 26 to October 2, 2012|
Published by Safe-T-Gallery Inc.
Don Burmeister: Owner/Editor
Barbara Confino: Associate Editor
Galleries often show fairly safe, non-challenging work during the summer. Stephen Ferry’s new show “Violentology” currently at Umbrage Gallery is anything but, addressing head-on the recent decade of violent conflict in Columbia. Although current events are more complex than the simplistic label “drug war” implies, periodic internal conflict has been ongoing in Columbia for most of its existence as a nation. Currently based in Bogota, Ferry has been covering Latin America for over twenty years.
Ferry’s website has the title “non fiction photography” and the prints on display at Umbrage are definitely not presented as art objects. The “look and feel” is that of the daily press. Printed on a flat matte stock, the photos are attached directly to a black band running at about eye level along the gallery walls, with neither mats nor frames to divorce them from the simple descriptive captions alongside them.
Aside from a few archival images from the La Violencia era (c 1948-58) for historical background, the first set of muted color photographs of the FARC militia and paramilitary troops covers the years 2000-2005. The second segment jumps to 2009 with a group of black and white prints of human rights and anti-corruption activists at home and in transit. Despite the “demobilization” of paramilitary forces in 2004, these men are subject to death threats and must travel armed and with bodyguards. The grainy texture and sometimes shaky appearance of some of these images gives an impression of clandestine snaps and “pushed” film that contrasts sharply with the earlier color images of the combatants.
Only one of these images is available for individual sale – the record of a stray bullet through a window. However, the images are available in Ferry’s forthcoming book VIOLENTOLOGY: A Manual of the Colombian Conflict, which details the conflict’s effects on the population and provides essays and historical background to the continuing conflicts.