City Hall of the Arts at RIT hosts photo exhibition chronicling the political trajectory of the January 6 uprising

Solo exhibition of photos and videos of David Bhutto’s new book, edge, chronicles political events in the United States from the 2016 presidential election until the January 6, 2021 rebellion, which will come to RIT’s City Art Space.

Opening February 4, “Brink: Portraits of David Bhutto” features an impressive selection of images from the book (Punctum Press) in which Jane Boggi, associate professor at the RIT School of Photographic Arts and Sciences, served as lead editor. The exhibition runs until February 20.

Poggi will lead a free public conversation with Butow at 6 p.m. Friday, February 4, at RIT City Art Space, 280 East Main St. , Sibley Tower, Rochester, NY. Press photography at 6 p.m. Thursday, February 3, at MAGIC Spell Studios’ Wegmans Theater on the RIT campus.

Bhutto is a freelance photojournalist whose projects and assignments have taken him to more than twenty countries, including Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq, Peru, Yemen and Zimbabwe. Although he has worked for decades covering public policy outcomes, he has never filmed at the Capitol or the White House. In 2017, when Donald Trump took office, Bhutto felt compelled to relocate from California to Washington, D.C., to document events closely.

Bhutto wrote, whose book was recently reviewed by Washington Post.

“As reviewers seek to downplay or downplay the significance of these events, it is critical to keep a record of how close Donald Trump’s presidency of American democracy is to the brink of dysfunction,” he adds.

According to Bhutto, while some of his photos were taken on a mission, or immediately published in New YorkerAnd Vanity Fair, And time, “I was very interested in making different images of the daily news coverage that would be especially compelling to viewers decades from now.”

He noted that he and Poggi worked collaboratively to plan the exhibition “with the idea that it would be more than just a showcase and repetition of what’s in the book.

“The City Art Space is large and flexible and we decided to create a unique experience for the scenes,” said Putu. “One difference is that we will include a short slow-motion video I made, which is mostly scenes from the US Capitol and the White House. There is no narration. It is just a tone poem that complements and gives some texture to the still images in the gallery.”

Bhutto added that the space also provides flexibility for some very large prints, and because the narrative concludes with the January 6 attack on the Capitol, “We kind of force the viewer to move into a space to encounter virtually life-size images that I hope will give a sense of my experience on that day—so crowded, And chaotic, and afraid of enclosed spaces.”

For Poggi, a former White House photo editor before coming to RIT in 2013, editing photos spanning a five-year workgroup—not to mention being mentioned remotely during the pandemic—presented a number of unique and intriguing challenges.

“David first sent me a large-scale edit of the files in October 2019,” Boggi recalls. “Over the next two months, I edited the images that really resonated in my mind.”

“We knew David would continue to work during the inauguration, but January 6 affected how the book was shaped in a big way,” she added.

Last spring, the duo consulted with Olivier Picard, the photo editor they had both worked with previously US News & World Report. Around the same time, Boogie hooked up with Shelby Lyman ’12 (Photography Science), whom she had previously recruited to work in the White House Photographic Office. Lehmann, a digital photography specialist, prepared all 104 files of the book before it was printed in Italy.

Poggi said she was grateful that John Aäsp, gallery director of RIT’s College of Art and Design, was able to open an opening for the Butow Gallery, particularly given venue scheduling and other logistical changes brought about by the pandemic. She is looking forward to the audience to experience Butow’s important work.

“In many ways, it was a whole new project to sponsor the exhibition,” Boggi said. “While the subjects are the same in the book and the exhibition, there will only be 29 images displayed in the City Art Space. I didn’t want the two experiences to feel redundant.”

“It was important for people to see the exhibition and then be able to pick up the book and keep finding new images that add more nuance to the conversation,” she concluded.

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