Blue Sky Days by Tomas van Houtryve will be on display at the BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels with large format gelatin-silver prints as part of the Watching You, Watching Me group exhibition from Jan. 25 to Feb. 18, 2018.
BOZAR, Palais des Beaux-Arts Bruxelles
Rue Ravensteinstraat 23
About Blue Sky Days
In October 2012, a drone strike in northeast Pakistan killed a 67-year-old woman picking okra outside her house. At a briefing held in 2013 in Washington, DC, the woman’s 13-year-old grandson, Zubair Rehman, spoke to a group of five lawmakers. “I no longer love blue skies,” said Rehman, who was injured by shrapnel in the attack. “In fact, I now prefer grey skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are grey.”
Tomas van Houtryve attached his camera to a small drone and travelled across America to photograph the very sorts of gatherings that have become habitual targets for foreign air strikes—weddings, funerals, groups of people praying or exercising. He also flew his camera over settings in which drones are used to less lethal effect, such as prisons, oil fields, industrial feedlots, and stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border. The images captured from the drone’s perspective engage with the changing nature of surveillance, personal privacy and war.
About Watching You, Watching Me
What right do governments, corporations, and individuals have to collect and retain information on your daily communications? What tools – both today and in the past – have been used to monitor your activities? What are the immediate and far-reaching effects? As governments and corporations around the world expand their efforts to track the communications and activities of millions of people, this not only threatens our right to privacy, but also opens the door for information to be collected and used in ways that are repressive, discriminatory, and chill freedom of speech and expression.
It is in this context of massive information gathering that Watching You, Watching Me – the 22nd installment of the Open Society Foundations’ Moving Walls exhibition – explores how photography can be both an instrument of surveillance and a tool to expose and challenge its negative impact. In tackling the inherent difficulty of visualizing something that is meant to be both omnipresent and covert – seemingly everywhere and nowhere at the same time – the artists in this exhibition employ a dynamic range of approaches. Together, these 10 artists provide a satellite-to-street view of the ways in which surveillance culture blurs the boundaries between the private and public realm. These projects raise important and provocative questions about the role of privacy in preserving our basic freedoms and rights.
Watching You, Watching Me: A Photographic Response to Surveillance is curated by Stuart Alexander, Susan Meiselas, and Yukiko Yamagata.
Praise for Blue Sky Days
“Blue Sky Days is one of the most important photo essays done in the last few years. It tackles issues that are very difficult to photograph but central to modern existence — privacy, government intrusion and modern antiseptic warfare.”
- James Estrin, Editor of the The New York Times LENS blog
“With simple, vivid means, Houtryve brings the war home.”
– Teju Cole, Photography critic for The New York Times Magazine
“Conceptual in nature, grounded in metaphor, and presented in gorgeous black and white, his series Blue Sky Days sure looks like art.“
– Jordan G. Teicher, critic for Photograph Magazine
Honors for Blue Sky Days
• ICP Infinity Award
• World Press Photo, Second Prize
• Photographic Museum of Humanity, First Prize
• TIME’s Top 10 Photos of 2014
• Aaron Siskind Fellowship Grant
• Pulitzer Center Grant
• Getty Grant