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Theatre Tue Feb 09 2010

I Am A Camera @ The Neo-Futurarium

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Director Greg Allen's latest work explores our relationship to images, and how we see ourselves in photographs. The show opens with a darkened stage and a series of slides projected onto a screen. They are instantly recognizable as having come from the not so very distant past -- long enough ago that the average family owned just one camera, but recent enough that the images captured are in color. Whether they are slides from the personal collections of the cast and crew, or treasures found deep in the recesses of a thrift store, we don't know, and is beside the point. I couldn't help thinking about my own relationship to images like those being projected in front of me; when I was growing up a set of photo albums lined an entire shelf of the living room, and I pored over them intensely. Any moments captured in those images that I was too young to remember on my own were seared into my memory nonetheless by endless hours spent turning the pages of those unwieldy albums.

Throughout the piece, photography is used as a way to confront ideas about ourselves, and as a way to communicate. In one scene, actors Jeremy Sher and Caitlin Stainken sit at a table covered in photographs, and are relegated to either asking or answering questions of each other by selecting an image from the table and holding it up. In another scene, reminiscent of a party where guests look at digital photos that were taken of them moments earlier, the actors pose with audience members and take snapshots which are then projected onto a screen. It was at once unsettling and validating to see an image of myself projected onscreen during the performance, an experience I realized later was much like seeing myself tagged in other people's Facebook photos -- somehow showing up in a friend's snapshots of a fabulous evening gives me a greater sense of credibility than showing up in my own.

The show ends the same way it starts, with slides of yesteryear projected once more onto a screen. Having seen them at the beginning of the piece, I already felt like knew the stories that went with them, and felt nostalgic seeing them again. That, in a nutshell, is the point Allen is trying to get across; how much of our experience and identity comes from within, and how much of it comes from images incessantly presented to us on the various screens that we share our lives with?

I Am A Camera runs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm through March 13 at the Neo-Futurarium. Tickets are $15, $10 for students and seniors, and pay-what-you-can on Thursdays. For information and tickets visit the Neo-Futurists

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

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A/C is the arts and culture section of Gapers Block, covering the many forms of expression on display in Chicago. More...
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