Jim Iska: “Photography Black and White”

Born in Chicago, Iska completed a BS in photography at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology (1980). In the decades following the Changing Chicago project, Iska has concentrated primarily on architectural and landscape photography, and he has produced photographs for books focusing on the cities of New York and Philadelphia, and on Chicago’s parks. He works as a departmental specialist in the Department of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The working title of the talk is “Photography Black and White” and the theme is exploring the extremes in which the medium of photography is placed. For example a question that continuously comes up is this: is a photograph simply a record of something or is it a means of personal expression? Inevitably the answer always lies somewhere between the two extremes, but where to place a particular piece is always difficult if not impossible. That’s what makes photography such as fascinating and frustrating medium.

All this points to the ultimate question, is photography an art and if it is, where does it fit into art history. Obviously having worked in the Department of Photography at the Art Institute for over thirty years, I have a strong opinion on this! I’d also like to bring into question a few assumptions that have been accepted over the years.

Of course I’ll be showing a lot of great work both from our collection and elsewhere, including work that isn’t necessarily in the realm of fine art. I’d also like to show non-photographic works of art as well.

I know is group has a particular bent toward landscape photography so I’ll be sure to lean in that direction. The landscape in art is a subject that has fascinated me just about forever.