Thursday, October 30, 2008
GRADUATES is an exhibition by Minneapolis-based artist Matthew Bakkom that presents the 664 graduation portraits of the Tuskegee Air Training Institute to investigate image, memory and race as it exists in our public record.
Starting in 1942, the US Army Air force created a photographic index of each of the graduates of the Air Training Program at the Tuskegee Institute, the official training program for black pilots in what was then still a segregated military.The subsequent performance of these men in WWII achieved legendary status in both social and popular imagination.Their direct participation in the post war civil rights
movement added further to their elevated status.
Bakkom approaches these figures who have been transformed by society and their actions from individuals into myths.The exhaustive specificity of the archive, the powerful plasticity of the photographic image and the sculptural aesthetics of serial
presentation are harnessed to engage the larger questions at hand. As an exhibition, GRADUATES hopes to provide a context for this previously unpublished glimpse of a collective past that might resonate with our attempts to negotiate the challenges of the moment.