Philadelphia Photo Arts Center Presents David Hartt’s Negative Space / The Last Poet, a Commentary on our Modern Economy

David Hartt
David Hartt

Running February 28 – May 19, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC) presents Negative Space / The Last Poet, an exhibition of photography, sculpture, and an original film from David Hartt. The show, which paints a portrait of our post-industrial, late-capitalist society, will include a panel discussion on February 28 from 6-7:30pm, along with an opening reception on March 8 from 6:30-8:30pm.

In David Hartt’s first solo exhibition in Philadelphia, Negative Space / The Last Poet showcases a photographic series and film, inspired by painter and graphic artist, Robert Rauschenberg.  In 1980, Rauschenberg traveled from Long Island, New York to Captiva, Florida, documenting the journey through photography.  Hartt repeated the journey, this time traveling from Boston, Massachusetts to Atlanta, Georgia, using drone video, photographs and field recordings to capture the territory. The resulting imagery comprises Negative Space, a photo series depicting a landscape defined by our modern economy – the reversal of urban to suburban migration patterns, an extreme concentration of wealth and power, marginalization and displacement of industry, and the emergent precariousness of environmental catastrophe. Beyond images from a bird’s eye view, viewers can expect to see photographs of the people, places, and artifacts Hartt encountered along the way.

The 22-minute film, The Last Poet, is narrated by prominent political scientist and author, Francis Fukuyama. Providing sobering commentary to back the striking drone footage, Fukuyama discusses current political and socio-economic developments in the United States, which he believes stem from a fundamental crisis of democracy.

Complementing the images and film are sculptural pieces: a 5-foot hollow aluminum payphone enclosure, which lies on the floor of the gallery, and another smaller version mounted to the wall, adorned with hanging chains. One can conclude that these represent objects that have been rendered obsolete due to our rapidly advancing society.

On February 28, from 6-7:30pm, PPAC will host a panel discussion between David Hartt and local art curators including Peter Barberie, the Brodsky Curator of Photographs at the Alfred Stieglitz Center at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Meg Onli, the Assistant Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Though we are a photography organization at our core, we always love the opportunity to present work that goes beyond the static image,” says PPAC Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director, Sarah Stolfa. “We look forward to showcasing more artists like David in the future, who combine disciplines to create incredibly dynamic art exhibitions.”

David Hartt creates work that unpacks the social, cultural, and economic complexities of his various subjects, and explores how historic ideas and ideals persist or transform over time. Born in Montréal in 1967, he lives and works in Philadelphia. Hartt received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa.


For more information on Negative Space / The Last Poet, visit here.



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