Travel Posters, 14 digitally produced photographic posters, 40" x 30" each, 2 text panels, installed in the Market Arcade windows, commissioned by CEPA, 2001
Hell has to do with justice, not anger.
Hell begins with hope.
As an American traveler, my vision is informed by our country's history of military presence and use of force all over the world. While beauty and difference strike me, taking lots of photographs wherever I go, I am uncomfortable voluntarily participating in the glut of imagery that maintains the status quo. I am even more uncomfortable taking photographs because they look like photographs I have already seen in National Geographic and other magazines. Nevertheless, I take them. Collaborating with anthropologist Catherine Lutz, author of Reading National Geographic, on her book, Homefront: A Military City and the American Twentieth Century, (Beacon Press, 2001), an analysis of Fort Bragg and Fayetteville, North Carolina, for which I took the photographs, it became clear to me that one photograph is never enough.
Meaning is not instantaneous. When we find
a photograph meaningful, we are lending it a past and a future.
I do not believe in the autonomous power of the photograph to communicate history, the present, or the future adequately. The photograph demands context. In the Travel Posters for CEPA, dislocated captions, the juxtaposition of images, and the architecture of the Market Arcade provide that necessary context - a heterotopic space. The captions, alternating with quotes by Rem Koolhaas and Guy Debord, among others, also make demands. Text demands proof, evidence, and its reference. Travel Posters are intended to be a display and critique of, challenge to, and dialogue with the ideals of exotic encounter, vacation, adventure, touristic desire, cultural tourism, neo-colonialism, commodity fetishism, and representation itself.
We are not the future. The past is not another
Travel Posters were originally 30 glossy digital prints, with captions and quotes, tacked up at LUMP Projects in Raleigh as part of the Labor < > Leisure solo exhibition. Next, they were 4 Lamda prints, including captions but without quotes, mounted to sintra with a UV laminate, produced for the solo show, New Frontiers at the Mint Museum in Charlotte. New Frontiers also included: the first ten drawings from the series, "Places the United has Bombed," done from military surveillance photographs, aerial views, maps, strategic plans, and media sources; "Yearbook 1998-1999, (for Felix Gonzalez-Torres)," a scrapbook of images clipped from the Manchester Guardian, the captions framed as a collage of words; "Global Economy," an enormous photographic lightbox of the innards of a slaughtered cow in rural Brazil, and ten black and white photographs of Fayetteville and Fort Bragg.
Two cultures become culture through the
Curator Todd Smith wrote in the New Frontiers catalogue, "What ties these projects together is the artist's conceptual investigation into the similarities between the soldier's and the tourist's eye. Slavick explores how operations of power, privilege, and destruction characterize the manner in which the soldier looks down the barrel of a gun and how a tourist looks through the viewfinder of her camera. A central question for our late capitalist society, according to James Clifford, is 'how do self and other clash and converse in the encounters of ethnography, travel, and modern interethnic relations.' Like slavick, Clifford regards the intersection of ethnography and travel as the site for constant negotiation. The connections between systems of observation and travel, between us and them, and between study and action are manifested through slavick's eye. All of slavick's images explore the intimate and complex relationship between the powerful gaze of the soldier, the traveler, the artist, the media, and the public."