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Photos bring out different interpretations

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 16:02


George Morin / The Advocate

Fine and Media Arts professor Dana Davis describes the story behind his photo project “As Is” during the reception of his art show in the Eddie Rhodes Gallery on Thursday.

in unusual positions, visitors expressed different emotions as they passed through the Eddie Rhodes Gallery.

The gallery hosted the exhibit “As Is,” a collection of photographs created by fine and media arts professor Dana Davis from Jan. 21 to Thursday.

“The one thing I think this show is about is very similar to what is known as the Rorschach test,” Davis said.

A Rorschach test is a projective test using symmetrical inkblots and subjects say what they see in each inkblot.

In the photographs, Barbies were in polyvinyl bags hanging upside down with the price tags still attached. Left as they were upon Davis’s purchase, the dolls reflected the theme of the exhibit, “As Is.”

The images ranged from close-up shots of various limbs or hair to multiple Barbie dolls in one bag, all the photos were in a high black and white contrast.

“(I wanted to see) what people’s interpretations were when working with these Barbies. Many of them came from a thrift store I frequented,” Davis said. “It became interesting to work with (the dolls) after hearing what some of my more radical friends had to say about the photographs.”

One of these friends is Bay Area painter Kim Thoman, who met Davis at Berkeley City College. Thoman said she had a strong reaction to the images as the dolls were placed upside down, naked and mussed.

“As a female, the images brought back memories of seeing Barbie as an idealized figure and the wishes of a beautiful self-image,” Thoman said. “Dana presents them in an unsavory position and it has a lot of levels of meanings.”

Berkeley resident Pamela Burdman agreed.

“I like them (because) they hint at drowning in some of the photos along with having an erotic feel,” Burdman said.

The compositions allow for mixed interpretation such as symbolizing the brutality of women who start glamorously but have a tragic end.

Davis said he was amazed with the overall positive reception he got for the photos.

Art department Chairperson John Diestler said, “Dana has stayed in natural and high contrasting photos in the past, creating mood orienting work.

“Composition or selection, what you are seeing is the final process (Dana) did with the photos,” he said. “When it comes to framing, distortion and manipulation is allowed.”


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