Photographs by Emily Kloppenburg and Ilaria Ortensi
January 29 - February 28, 2016
Columbia University's Italian Academy
This exhibition, by Emily Kloppenburg and Ilaria Ortensi, prompted the question, “How might anyone with a vested interest in architectural design and a commitment to combatting social inequality reconcile the two, if at all?” The photos shown were part of a book, The Art of Inequality, Housing and Real Estate - A Provisional Report. The book was produced in conjunction with the ongoing research project and exhibition series, House Housing: An Untimely History of Architecture and Real Estate, which encourages a public, historically informed conversation on the intersection of architecture, housing, and real estate development.
Revisiting The Art of Inequality featured photographs commissioned by the Buell Center and is edited by Thomas Roma (Professor, Department of Photography, School of the Arts, Columbia University). The goal was not to illustrate the research presented in the text, but rather to convey the ever-present and seemingly self-evident faces of inequality that are all around us. Together with Professor Roma, Kloppenburg and Ortensi—former Master of Fine Arts candidates at Columbia University—explored Manhattan’s 125th Street as a site of investigation. This important east-west corridor is one of Harlem’s main commercial and cultural hubs and has, in recent years, been the site of charged debates prompted by rapid demographic and physical changes in an area long characterized by disinvestment. If the art of inequality is visible anywhere, it is most certainly visible here, at Columbia’s doorstep. Following the show From East 125th Street to West 125th Street at Avery Hall, this initiative marked a creative partnership between the Graduate School of Visual Arts and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia and celebrated the joint efforts of both schools.
Emily Kloppenburg’s work with photography, video, and installation explores urban cultural dynamics between the private and the public through visual interventions and mappings in space. Kloppenburg was born in New York in 1989 and earned a BA from Vassar College in 2011. Currently, she is a 2nd Year MFA Candidate at Columbia University in New York City.
Ilaria Ortensi’s work investigates the construction and representation of contemporary space, using both documentation and fiction to create images that encourage viewers to ask questions. Her recent works explores iconic, urban residential sites (Windows, 2014), and ideas implied in the creation of virtual space (Variations, 2015). She received her MFA from Columbia University and is currently part of the Hercules Art/Studio Program in New York City.
Within the last decade, Columbia’s Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America has become one of the premier centers in the world for advanced research in the humanities and the sciences. Its chief commitment is to promote groundbreaking work across disciplinary boundaries while still preserving the integrity of individual fields. The core of the Academy’s work is its Fellowship Program. McKim Mead and White’s splendid 1927 Casa Italiana, beautifully reconstructed in 1993, is the setting for its conferences, concerts, films and exhibitions.