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Framing Urban Narratives: The 2020 MOCA Jacksonville UNF Student Artist-in-Residence Exhibition

Framing Urban Narratives: The 2020 MOCA Jacksonville UNF Student Artist-in-Residence Exhibition

January 26, 2021 // by MOCA Staff

© Ally Brody, Volumes (Mural by Case Maclaim, Jacksonville, FL) , 2020.
© Ally Brody, Volumes (Mural by Case Maclaim, Jacksonville, FL), 2020. Archival Inkjet Print. Image courtesy of the artist.


By Jessica Borusky, UNF Gallery Director and Instructor

The practice of urban-photography is not new. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce generated the first photograph on record- a view from his window in France in 1826. Meditating on, and making sense of, the urban landscape through artistic representation is consistent with our need to capture and qualify our adaptable and nuanced existence within the ethos of (Western) industry and capitalism. Urban photography today can highlight the evolving tension between late-capitalism and the vestiges of collective nostalgia around industrial capitalism. Images of urban decay, or “ruins porn,” have so saturated our visual landscape that these spaces have become sites for prom, wedding, baby, and graduation portraits-reinscribing detritus within the context of growth, progress, and heteronormativity. Concurrently, these sites are used to evoke a new form of Manifest Destiny: backdrops for gentrification, white-washing, and homogenous commercial and real estate development. In both instances, the need to insert oneself into the barrage and depletion cycle of American Progress remains strong: we are continuously drawn to these relics, whether through displaced sentimentality, fetish, voyeurism, or creative “placemaking.” However, this subject remains complex and vast-producing new visual knowledge about physical history, archiving one's surroundings, locating lived experience, and unearthing new narratives about place. Additionally, these sites take on new meaning during a time where in which many of us have rediscovered our environs amidst pandemic socializing restrictions and renewed sensibility toward municipal moments previously overlooked.

allybrodyphoto 3
Ally Brody Image3

This year's MOCA Jacksonville Artist in Residence, Ally Brody (2021), examines her local urban landscape through photography. Brody graduates this spring with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography, and a minor in Mass Communications and Art History. Her work explores social and political topics: the environment, socio-economics, and personal narrative. Her prints incorporate analog and digital processes and collage, layering her compositions to engender new considerations within the field of urban photography. Brody's photo series for her exhibition, Public Domain, observes how street art- such as murals, wheat-pastings, graffiti, and vertical/wall works-become iconography of and for the people, art removing itself from sole proprietorship and osmotically enriching a broader definition within the aesthetics of shared and, seemingly “forgotten,” space. Excavating her surroundings in Northeast and Central Florida-including Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Gainesville, Sanford, Orlando, DeLand and Daytona, Brody considers how these photographic documents also capture time: embracing informal details such as trash, wires, windows, and lights within the frame.


Do Brody's documented urban vignettes contribute righteously to the always-colloquial fine art media of urban photography? Visit MOCA this spring to find out: consider images imploring us to ruminate on our everyday landscape. Particularly prescient during a time in which we may spend more of our days and attention toward our collective landscapes through isolated examination, Ally Brody's Artist in Residence work, Public Domain, may take on new meaning to the practice of urban photography.

Ally Brody Image1




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