Andy Freeberg: Guardians & Sentry:
Sitting in the Art World
On view: May 1 – May 29, 2009
Andy Freeberg photographs women Guardians in the art museums of Russia, as they sit and guard the collections. When looking at the paintings and sculptures, the presence of the women becomes an inherent part of viewing the artwork itself. In a second series, Sentry, Freeberg photographs the Chelsea Galleries white bunker-like front desks that display the top of the heads of the desk sitters – often the only other human presence. In a deadpan approach, he targets the uniformity, anonymity, and their chilling effect.
In Guardians, Freeberg reveals; “I found the guards as intriguing to observe as the pieces they watch over. In conversation they told me how much they like being among Russia’s great art. A woman in Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery Museum said she often returns there on her day off to sit in front of a painting that reminds her of her childhood home. Another guard travels three hours each way to work, since at home she would just sit on her porch and complain about her illnesses “as old women do.” She would rather be at the museum enjoying the people watching, surrounded by the history of her country.”
In discussing Sentry Freeberg explains, “It was an odd moment when I walked into that first gallery in Chelsea and saw a large white desk with a head poking up from the top edge of the computer screen. I took out my camera, carefully framing and exposing the scene, and the head never moved or took notice of my gaze. As I walked around that booming Chelsea neighborhood of art galleries, I began to notice a trend: at some of the biggest galleries there are giant entry desks, where only head tops are visible. This leads me to wonder, in this digital world of email and instant messaging that supposedly makes us more connected, are we also setting up barriers to the simple eye to eye contact that affirms our humanity?”
Press on the Sentry project:
Alison Nordström, Curator of Photographs at the George Eastman House, wrote an article about the Sentry project in the well-regarded British photography and art magazine Next Level.
On September 6, 2007 The New York Times ran this article.
An interview on Zoum Zoum, the French photo blog, can be seen here.
Photographer Bio: Andy Freeberg was born in New York City and studied at the University of Michigan. He began working professionally as a photojournalist in New York with assignments for Rolling Stone, Time, The Village Voice and Fortune, specializing in environmental portraits. His project, Sentry, was presented in a one man show at the Danziger Projects Gallery in New York City in September, 2007 and received critical acclaim in the New York Times, The New Yorker and many other publications. Freeberg’s work was recently acquired by the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. Guardians, of Russian Art Museums, was selected for the book prize at Photo Lucida’s Critical Mass 2008 and it will be published in 2010. Guardians was also selected as a winner at the Hearst 8×10 Biennial. Freeberg now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.