'E.CO' friendly 

Contemporary art meets environmental awareness in E.CO, a photography exhibit that serves as the perfect showcase for [Artspace] at Untitled, according to Executive Director Jon Burris.

“The reason we were interested in this particular show was that it fit our mission. We are an environment designed to stimulate creative thought and new ideas about contemporary art,” Burris said. “However, over the last few months, we have also adopted a new position of displaying art with a conscience.”

In addition, he said that E.CO, which runs through Jan. 5, 2013, helps fill a hole in the local art scene.

“We fill a niche, but doing just national and international art,” Burris said. “We often forget that art, besides being pleasing aesthetically, can often make us think and move us to action. We believe that perhaps there’s not enough of that being exhibited.”

[Artspace] at Untitled is one of only four venues that will host the E.CO project, and the first in a series of exhibitions the museum will present over the next four years under the theme of “Bringing the World to Oklahoma.”

Organized by the Ministry of Culture of Spain and promoted by the Spanish Embassy in Washington D.C., the exhibition is comprised of more than 100 photographs representing a dozen photo collectives.

The photographers hail from Brazil, Costa Rica, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, the U.K., Venezuela and Spain. The project was the brainchild of famed Spanish curator Claudi Carerras.

“He came up with the idea and the concept of assigning them the subject of the environment. It could be the environment of their own location, their own country,” Burris said. “Or it could be another country — for example, a collective from England photographed in China. They had total freedom to choose the location and the kind of issues dealing with the environment.”

Knowing full well that such a topic might draw people away, he noted that “it’s documentary, but not in a heavy-handed sense.”

“It’s
a lot more subtle than you might think. You’re not going to come to
this exhibition seeing nothing but photographs of pollution and
destruction and global warming,” he said.

“You’re
going to find issues related to those things that are touched on, but
you’re going to find a wider variety and a much more subtle approach.”

As
“subtle” as the collection is, it has left Burris deeply affected about
specific issues and locations that he hadn’t been aware of, and hopes
that gallery patrons feel the same.

“It’s always important to realize that we’re part of the entire planet. Ultimately,
what all of us do with it over time will affect everyone,” he said.
“Art like this can make you think, and maybe drive you to some sort of
action.”

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