Teju Cole: Blind Spot
Sep 16 – Dec 24, 2022
THE DR. ROBERT BRANDT, JR. GALLERY
As a photographer, Cole has an eye for urban non-events, the quiet minutiae and delicate juxtapositions ripe for photographic transfiguration. As a writer—in addition to Blind Spot, Cole has two novels and a collection of essays to his name—what he describes is invisible. The real subject of his frames is not in the viewfinder. It requires a search that continues long after the shutter’s click: a revelation of a moral truth hidden from sight.
– Lev Feigin
With Blind Spot Teju Cole presents 33 photographs, each paired with his writing, following the format of his book of the same name, which also serves as an expanded catalog for the exhibition.
As with 2011 novel Open City, Blind Spot extends and updates the idea of the flaneur, the French term referring to a “leisurely stroller”. But in a more nuanced way, it is the ‘art’ of walking as a way to experience the world. Inherited from the likes of Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin, the idea of being a flaneur, as interpreted by Cole, really means slowing one’s pace so that the world can be more deeply observed and, potentially, interpreted. Cole’s walks through contemporary metropoles around the globe allows him to look, photograph and perhaps even slightly alter the urban fabric through which ambles. Cole’s own nomadic life reveals him to be both a participant and critic of the globalized world. His photographic work is a natural outgrowth of an observational fixation, and implicitly argues that this approach is an active one, not a passive stance.
Cole’s photography does not rely upon written narrative, but the concise commentary which he pairs with the images in both the book and exhibited work of Blind Spot presents a complementary layer, merging “reading” and “looking.” These texts carry intersecting themes and observations shared with, condensed, or developed from his fiction and essays.
Teju Cole is a writer, art historian, and photographer. He is the photography critic of the New York Times Magazine and the Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing at Harvard. Teju Cole has contributed to the New Yorker, Granta, Brick, and many other magazines. Born in the US, raised in Nigeria, and since 1992 a resident of New York City, Cole studied medicine and obtained a doctorate in art history before writing his first novel, Open City, and taking up photography. Teju Cole is also the author of Known and Strange Things, Every Day is for the Thief and Black Paper. His photographs have been exhibited in Italy, Iceland, India, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the US.
Artist Talk: Teju Cole
Stene Projects, Stockholm
Dr. Robert L. Brandt, Jr.