Under the Sun Exhibition with deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum at Boston City Hall, August-October 2018, Jeannie Simms
In 2017 she started a project about immigration in the southern Italian town of Sant’Alessio in Aspromonte, with the active support of the Mayor, Stefano Calabrò. Simms worked with the city administration and the local immigrant community (from Gambia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Syria, and Afghanistan) to create two participatory cyanotypes (camera less photographs or “sun prints”). Together, Italian-born inhabitants and recent immigrants foraged abandoned residences for objects that reminded them of the concept of “home,” including trash and organic materials (a method connecting to the 1960’s-70’s Italian art practice called “Arte-Povera”) With Simms, they arranged objects on large photosensitive cotton sheets and exposed them to sunlight. The results, hanging in the atrium of Boston City Hall, are ghostly silhouettes of domestic objects that seem to float in a sea of blue, evoking the displacement endured by immigrants fleeing their homes.
The title Under the Sun refers literally to the light-sensitive process of making cyanotypes, where by exposure to sunlight activates a chemical process of that results in the photographic image. Metaphorically, the title links us all under one sun, emphasizing our shared humanity. Lastly, the title sheds light on the long journeys and hardships many immigrants face fleeing war, poverty and political conflict in search of basic needs and opportunity for the future.
By Martina Tanga, Koch Curatorial Fellow, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 2018
Jeannie and Martina, August, 2018
Tufts Faculty Research Award